Dr. Anthony Fauci's weird obsession with killing off bars and restaurants
Eight months after Dr. Anthony Fauci began urging the public not to eat at restaurants or "congregate" at bars, the restaurant industry has lost $240 billion in revenue, and 100,000 restaurants have closed permanently across the nation. The devastation has also meant the loss of millions of jobs, according to the National Restaurant Association.
Yesterday, in a CNBC interview, Dr.Fauci says he "feels badly" about restaurants losing business. The infectious disease doctor also feels it's obligatory in a "neighborly" way to order takeout a few times a week from those eating places near his $1.8-million home in Northwest D.C.
No doubt the career bureaucrat heading up the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has seen the numbers coming out of the National Restaurant Association. As a key member of the White House's coronavirus task force, Dr. Fauci was the leading voice in setting individual states' public health policies for lockdowns, mask-wearing, and social distancing. The diminutive 79-year-old AIDS researcher became the go-to guy for all things COVID.
On March 15, Dr. Fauci appeared on Face the Nation and CNN to discuss the nation's response to the pandemic. In both televised interviews, Fauci suggested that a national shutdown of restaurants and bars, specifically, was on the table.
From Face the Nation:
You know, every single day we meet with the task force, and we take a look at what's going on. And you don't want to make a pronouncement that no one should ever go into a restaurant. I mean, I think that might be overkill right now, but everything is on the table.
It may come to the situation where we strongly recommend. Right now, myself personally, I wouldn't go to a restaurant. I just wouldn't because I don't want to be in a crowded place. I have an important job to do. I don't want to be in a situation where I'm going to be all of a sudden self-isolating for 14 days.
In a June 30 Senate hearing, Dr Fauci told the committee members: "Bars: really not good, really not good. Congregation at a bar, inside, is bad news. We really have got to stop that."
On Sept. 11, Fauci told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell: "If you go indoors in a restaurant — whatever capacity, 25[%], 50%, or what have you — indoors absolutely increases the risk."
On Sept. 18, in an MSNBC interview, Dr. Fauci repeated his warning: "When you have restaurants, indoors, in a situation where you have a high degree of infection in the community, you're not wearing masks, that's a problem. Bars are a really important place of spreading infection, there's not doubt about that."
On Sept. 28. Dr. Fauci appeared on Good Morning America to weigh in on the Florida governor's decision to reopen restaurants and bars in his state. Dr Fauci warned the governor he was "asking for trouble." "Now's the time to actually double down a bit," he advised.
How has Dr. Fauci's laser focus on eating establishments in the nation, to the exclusion of other indoor retail businesses such as grocery, liquor, and big box stores, affected the industry as a whole?
In March alone, restaurants had the highest number of business closures of any industry.
Fauci's multiple media appearances as well as his folksy-sounding fear-mongering served as the justification for state-by-state mandated closings of eateries. On June 25, four months into the Wuhan virus outbreak, a Yelp-sponsored Local Economic Impact Report reported 23,981 restaurants listed on their site had already closed, making it the second most affected industry in the United States. Retail, from mom-and-pop stores, along with larger chains already lagging in revenues, came in first in June.
Nearly eight months into the pandemic, restaurant closures continue unabated.
As funds from the Paycheck Protection Program loans dry up and payments to vendors come due, the New York State Restaurant Association recently predicted that two thirds of that state's restaurants and bars will close permanently.
Restaurant Business reports that with winter approaching, more independent restaurants will be closing. Many that relied on outdoor dining during the summer and fall must find other alternatives with some states banning indoor dining or limiting the number of customers.
The broader economic impact of closed restaurants is yet to be calculated. Those able to stay open this past year have spent thousands of dollars on improved ventilation systems and cleaning materials with no way of knowing if state leaders will impose more restrictions.
One thing is for sure. Dr. Fauci is not going to let up singling out the restaurant business. His sudden altruistic desire to keep neighborhood restaurants "afloat" with nightly takeout orders isn't fooling anybody. Days before he announced how bad he feels for those restaurant-owners who have lost their livelihoods, he told the Washington Post the country "is in for a whole lot of hurt" if we continue to congregate in indoor spaces.
Image credit: White House, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons, processed with FotoSketcher.