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Dr. Anthony Fauci at a coronavirus press conference at the White House. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Politico that the nation's political polarization is forcing him to "walk the fine balance" of informing the public about the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak and combating misinformation — which can sometimes come from President Trump.

What he's saying: "You should never destroy your own credibility. And you don't want to go to war with a president. ... But you got to walk the fine balance of making sure you continue to tell the truth."

The state of play: "I don't think that we are going to get out this completely unscathed. ... I think this is going to be one of those things we look back on and say boy, that was bad," Fauci told Politico.

  • "It could be really, really bad. I don't think it's gonna be, because I think we'd be able to do the kind of mitigation. It could be mild. I don't think it's going to be that mild either. It's really going to depend on how we mobilize," he added.

The big picture: Fauci, who has worked under six presidential administrations and took the lead on combatting the HIV/AIDS crisis while President Reagan was in office, is an infectious disease expert who has earned the trust of both Democrats and Republicans over his career.

  • "If I'm buying real estate in New York, I'll listen to the president of the United States. If I'm asking about infectious diseases, I'm going to listen to Tony Fauci," Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) told reporters on Capitol Hill.

Worth noting: Fauci also denied to Politico that the White House had pulled him from televised interviews regarding coronavirus, telling the outlet that Vice President Pence's office — which is now heading the response to the virus — wanted to re-clear his appearances after taking point on the issue.

Go deeper: Coronavirus "infodemic" threatens world's health institutions

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm lashed much of the East Coast Sunday and Monday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: Authorities in North Carolina confirmed that two people died in a car crash and that they responded 600 vehicle accidents during the storm on Sunday, per the Washington Post.

Texas abortion law remains in effect after appeals court ruling

Pro- and anti-abortion protesters outside the Supreme Court as arguments begin about the Texas abortion law on Capitol Hill in November. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A U.S. appeals court transferred a challenge to Texas' law banning most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy to the state supreme court in a 2-1 vote on Monday evening.

Why it matters: The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision means the country's most restrictive abortion law can remain in place for the time being.

7 hours ago - World

At least 2 dead after Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami

A satellite image of the explosive eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano on Saturday. Photo: UNICEF/NOAA

At least two people are confirmed to have died in Tonga following the undersea volcanic eruption that sent tsunami waves toward the island nation and across the Pacific over the weekend, officials said Monday.

The big picture: Officials reported major damage along the western coast of the main island of Tongatapu, where the capital, Nuku'alofa, was covered in ash and dust, including on the runway of the airport. A New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told Axios over the phone that two people had been confirmed to have died in the disaster.