During the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis on Friday, Rep. Jim Jordan pressed Dr. Anthony Fauci about limiting protests to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
JIM JORDAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Dr. Fauci, do protests increase the spread of the virus?
ANTHONY FAUCI: Do protests increase the spread of the virus? I think I can make a general statement.
JIM JORDAN: Well, half a million protesters on June 6 alone.
ANTHONY FAUCI: Yeah.
JIM JORDAN: I’m just asking that number of people, does it increase the spread of the virus?
ANTHONY FAUCI: Crowding together, particularly when you’re not wearing a mask, contributes to the spread of the virus.
JIM JORDAN: Should we limit the protesting?
ANTHONY FAUCI: I’m not sure what you mean. Should– how do we, say, limit the protesting?
JIM JORDAN: Should government limit the protesting?
ANTHONY FAUCI: I don’t think that’s relevant to–
JIM JORDAN: Well, you just said if it increases the spread of the virus, I’m just asking should we limit it?
ANTHONY FAUCI: Well, I’m not in a position to determine what the government can do in a forceful way.
JIM JORDAN: Well, you make all kinds of recommendations. You make comments on dating, on baseball, on everything you can imagine. I’m just asking you– you just said that protesting increased the spread. I’m just asking should we try to limit the protests?
ANTHONY FAUCI: No, I think I would leave that to people who have more of a position to do that. I can tell you–
JIM JORDAN: Government’s stopping people from going to church, Dr. Fauci.
ANTHONY FAUCI: Yeah.
JIM JORDAN: Last week in the Calvary Chapel case, five liberals on the Supreme Court said it was OK for Nevada to limit church services. I mean, Justice Gorsuch said it best. He said there’s no world in which the Constitution permits Nevada to favor Caesar’s Palace over Calvary Chapel. I’m just asking is there a world where the Constitution says you can favor one First Amendment liberty, protesting, over another, practicing your faith?
ANTHONY FAUCI: I’m not favoring anybody over anybody. I’m just making a statement that’s a broad statement that avoid crowds of any type no matter where you are because that leads to the acquisition and transmission. And I don’t judge one crowd versus another crowd. When you’re in a crowd, particularly if you’re not wearing a mask, that induces the spread.
JIM JORDAN: But it’s a simple question, Doctor. Should we limit the protests? Government is obviously limiting people going to church. And look–
ANTHONY FAUCI: I’m not–
JIM JORDAN: –there’s been no violence that I can see at church. I haven’t seen people during a church service go out and harm police officers or burn buildings, but we know that– I mean, for 63 days, nine weeks it’s been happening in Portland.
ANTHONY FAUCI: Right. Yeah.
JIM JORDAN: Well, one night in Chicago, 49 officers were injured, but no limits– no limit to protest. But, boy, you can’t go to church on Sunday.
ANTHONY FAUCI: I don’t know how many times I can answer that. I’m not going to opine on limiting anything. I’m just going to tell you–
JIM JORDAN: You’ve opined on a lot of things, Dr. Fauci.
ANTHONY FAUCI: Yeah, but I’ve never–
JIM JORDAN: This is something that directly impacts the spread of the virus, and I’m asking your position on the protest.
ANTHONY FAUCI: Yeah. Well, I’m not going to opine on limiting anything. I’m telling you what it is the danger, and you can make your own conclusion about that. You should stay away from crowds, no matter where the crowds are.
JIM JORDAN: Government has stopped– government has– government has stopped people from going to work. In fact, just in New Jersey four days ago, Ian Smith, Frank Trumbetti were arrested for opening up– for trying to operate their business, their gym. They were arrested. But my bet is if these two individuals who owned this gym were outside just in front of their gym and all the people who were working out in their gym were outside protesting, they’d have been just fine. But because they were in the gym working out actually running their business, they got arrested. Do you think that’s OK?
ANTHONY FAUCI: You know, I’m not going to opine on who gets arrested and who does not. I mean, you get where I’m going? I’m telling you as a public-health official, I say crowds–
JIM JORDAN: Do you see the inconsistency though, Dr. Fauci?
ANTHONY FAUCI: There’s no inconsistency, Congressman. There’s no–
JIM JORDAN: There’s no– so you’re allowed to protest millions of people on one day in crowds yelling, screaming, but you try to run your business, you get arrested? And if you stood right outside of that same business and protested, you wouldn’t get arrested? You don’t see an inconsistency there?
ANTHONY FAUCI: I don’t understand what you’re asking me as a public-health official to opine on who should get arrested or not. That’s not my position. You could ask–
JIM JORDAN: Well, you’ve advocated–
ANTHONY FAUCI: –as much as you want–
JIM JORDAN: You’ve advocated for certain businesses–
ANTHONY FAUCI: –and I’m not going to answer it.
JIM JORDAN: You’ve advocated for certain businesses to be shut down. I’m just asking you on your position on the protest. I mean, I haven’t seen one– we’ve heard a lot about hair salons. I haven’t seen one hairstylist who, between haircuts, goes out and attacks police or sets something on fire, but we’ve seen all kinds of that stuff during protests, and we know the protests actually increase the spread of the virus. You’ve said that.
ANTHONY FAUCI: I said crowds. I didn’t say specifically. I didn’t say protests do anything.
JIM JORDAN: So the protests don’t increase the spread of the virus?
ANTHONY FAUCI: I didn’t say that. You’re putting words in my mouth.
JIM JORDAN: No, I want– I want– I just want an answer to the question. Do the protests increase the spread of the virus?
ANTHONY FAUCI: I don’t have any scientific evidence of anything. I can tell you that crowds are known, particularly when you don’t have a mask, to increase the acquisition and transmission, no matter what the crowd.
JIM JORDAN: So you don’t have a position on whether the protests increase the spread of the virus or don’t increase the spread of the virus?
ANTHONY FAUCI: I’m saying that crowds, wherever the crowds are, can give you an increased probability that there’s going to be acquisition and transmission–
JIM JORDAN: But do you understand Americans’ concern? Protesting, according to– particular according to Democrats is just fine, but you can’t go to work. You can’t go to school. You can’t go to church. There’s limits placed on all three of those fundamental activities, First Amendment activities, but protesting is just fine?
ANTHONY FAUCI: You know–
– The gentle– the gentleman’s time has expired.