Republican Senator and Florida man Marco Rubio went on a Twitter rant Sunday to accuse Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, of lying about coronavirus in general and masks in particular.
“Dr. Fauci lied about masks in March,” Rubio tweeted Sunday morning. “Dr. Fauci has been distorting the level of vaccination needed for herd immunity. It isn’t just him. Many in elite bubbles believe the American public doesn’t know ‘what’s good for them’ so they need to be tricked into ‘doing the right thing.’ "
Health experts have faced a steep learning curve since the coronavirus first emerged late last year. It took a while to realize how airborne it was, and thus the protocols for wearing masks changed along with the knowledge. The virus also has been subject to changing perceptions, such as understanding what percentage of the population must have antibodies in order to achieve herd immunity.
Fauci’s estimates appeared to have jumped around, over the past few months and, on Sunday, he explained why.
“We have to realize that we have to be humble and realize what we don’t know,” he told CNN’s Dana Bash, explaining that his numbers were “guestimates” based on extrapolations from what we know concretely about measles.
Basing his numbers on the 98% effectiveness of measles vaccine – a disease that’s much more transmissible than COVID, despite the new strain of coronavirus – and the 94% effective rate of the Sars-CoV-2 vaccine, “75% to 80% for her immunity for COVID-19 is a reasonable estimate,” he said. “And in fact, most of my epidemiology colleagues agree with me.”
Rubio immediately got piled on by people posting the photos of him getting vaccinated ahead of health care workers, while wearing a mask.
Perhaps the most stinging rebuke came from Rebekah Jones, the Florida geographer whose home was raided by gun-toting state police amid allegations that she had infiltrated the state health department communications system to send a message about coronavirus. She had been fired in May, she said, for refusing to alter coronavirus data to downplay the pandemic’s effects and reach.
“I actually defended your early vaccination as a win for public health messaging,” Jones tweeted. “Attacking scientists for not knowing everything there is to know about a novel virus is absurd. And it was the governor of the state you lived in who intentionally mislead the public re: masks.”
The father of a victim in the Parkland shooting said Rubio’s game hadn’t changed much since the 2018 tragedy that took his daughter’s life.
“When my daughter was murdered I called you intentionally irrelevant because you would not tell the truth about guns,” tweeted Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter, Jaime was gunned down in the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman High School. “With this tweet below, you are doing it again while ignoring COVID reality, Russian hacks, and other things. You are truly a disgusting punk.”