Dr. Anthony Fauci talks delta variant in Arkansas, new federal vaccine mandates

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – In a one-on-one interview with Mitch McCoy, Dr. Anthony Fauci talks about how Arkansas is responding to COVID-19 and sharing his thoughts on the new vaccination strategy outlined by Pres. Joe Biden.

That strategy, part of which calls for new OSHA rules directing companies with 100 or more employees to either vaccines or test staff weekly for COVID-19, drew swift opposition from many, including federal and state lawmakers in Arkansas.

Fauci said he would appeal to those lawmakers to consider just why the president is making such a proposal, noting that we are now experiencing a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” and saying that the government has taken many steps to overcome vaccine hesitancy.

“We have tried everything we can to get people to voluntarily get vaccinated. We’ve made it as easy as it can be,” he said. “It’s available, it’s convenient, it’s safe, it works and it’s free, and yet there are still about 75 million people in the United States who are eligible to be vaccinated who have not gotten vaccinated.”

He also said that he hoped lawmakers in Arkansas would “understand and appreciate” the moves Biden was making in order to “keep the citizens of Arkansas safe not only for themselves but for their family and for their entire career.”

Fauci noted how part of the recently announced plan from Pres. Joe Biden to address the surging pandemic would bring in military medical response teams to help health care workers facing extreme burnout from being on the front lines of this fight for the last 18 months.

Earlier this week Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced that a team of 20 personnel were on their way to the Natural State to help relieve doctors and nurses.

One of the major changes with the delta variant of COVID-19 has been its impact of younger people, which can be seen in Arkansas as the state hit a new record this week for the number of school districts being listed in high infection zones.

Fauci said the challenges facing local leaders around returning to school have been tough but added that the best way to keep kids safe as they go back to class is to surround them with people who have been vaccinated, like teachers, school staff and older students.

Finally, Fauci was questioned about a report this week that claimed funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases provided federal funding to research the coronavirus in a lab in Wuhan.

“The research that was done was to be able to get information to help protect us from future pandemics cause it was done at a time following SARS CoV-1, which you’ll remember was a pandemic in 2002,” Fauci said.

Fauci said the research was well regulated and had nothing to do with SARS CoV-2.

“People are inappropriately trying to connect one with them either,” Fauci said.

Fauci called the report ‘misleading.’

Watch the full interview with Dr. Fauci in the video player above.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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