People magazine on Tuesday, December 1, 2020, honored National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci as one of its people of the year.
The magazine called Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, “the doctor America needed in 2020,” lauding him for “providing steady guidance during the pandemic.” It also touted Fauci’s decades-long career, during which he has advised six presidents “through some of the most dangerous health threats in the history of our country.”
Asked how he stays “focused” during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Fauci told the magazine, “You stay focused because you just do it. You dig deep, you grab yourself by the bootstraps and you say you’ve got to do it. There’s no other alternative because if you don’t do it you’re going to fail, and failure isn’t an option. So there’s no room at all to get distracted, and there’s no room at all to give up. You just have to keep going.”
Fauci added that “divisiveness” among Americans and around the world “makes it much more difficult to address a public health outbreak.”
“When you have an outbreak, everyone needs to pull together because everyone is in it together. When you have obvious sharp differences, politically and otherwise, that gets in the way of a unified response,” he said.
“I mean I’ve been doing this for 36 years as director of the institute. I’ve seen disagreements. I’ve seen political issues get in the way over the 36 years, but I’ve never seen the extent of the divisiveness which leads to hostility against public health measures,” he continued.
Fauci revealed earlier this year that he and his family, including his daughters, have received harassment over complaints about his public health recommendations during the pandemic, including wearing face masks or coverings.
“That’s very difficult to get your mind around, about how a public health issue can engender threats of violence,” he said.
The nation’s leading infectious disease expert also addressed praise he has received for his guidance during the pandemic, in addition to joking about actor Brad Pitt portraying him on “Saturday Night Live” earlier this year.
“I think he did a great job. I actually did. It was at a time when I had a vocal cord polyp, and my voice, I sounded like Vito Corleone in ‘The Godfather,’ and he did a great job of imitating me with that. He did a pretty good job with the Brooklyn accent too,” Fauci said.
Also among People magazine’s people of the year for 2020 were celebrities Selena Gomez, George Clooney, and Regina King.
Fauci was also this week honored for his work fighting the global HIV/AIDS crisis during a virtual ceremony hosted by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition.