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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Anthony Fauci during the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House on Tuesday. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Insitute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Thursday he feels safe even as his security has been stepped up following "growing threats to his personal safety."

Why it matters: As the top U.S. infectious disease expert, Fauci plays a leading and highly visible role in the U.S. response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Details: "The concerns include threats as well as unwelcome communications from fervent admirers," the Washington Post first reported on Wednesday.

Between the lines: It's unclear what the threats against Fauci entail, but he has risen to prominence as the scientific voice of reason during President Trump's daily coronavirus task force news briefings. The 79-year-old immunologist has at times stepped in to clarify, or even refute, some of Trump's statements.

  • The New York Times reported on Saturday that he had become "the target of an online conspiracy theory that he is mobilizing to undermine the president ... fanned by a right-wing chorus of Mr. Trump's supporters."

What they're saying: Asked at the daily coronavirus task force briefing whether he had his security increased, Fauci referred the question to the Health and Human Services Department's Office of Inspector General.

  • President Trump said Fauci "doesn't need security, everybody loves him," adding, "Besides that, they'd be in big trouble if they ever attacked him."
  • An HHS watchdog spokesperson told Axios they're unable to comment on providing protective services for Fauci.
  • An HHS spokesperson said when contacted by Axios about the threats, "Dr. Fauci is an integral part of the U.S. government’s response against COVID-19."
    • "Among other efforts, he is leading the development of a COVID-19 vaccine and he regularly appears at White House press briefings and media interviews. We do not have anything further to add at this time."

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Go deeper

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

British national named in Colleyville synagogue standoff

A law enforcement vehicle sits near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on Jan. 16. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

British national Malik Faisal Akram took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, the FBI said in a statement.

State of play: Authorities had initially declined to release the name of the 44-year-old suspect or identify the hostages, all adults, though police chief Michael Miller confirmed that one of those held was Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who leads the congregation.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron — WHO recommends 2 new treatments — What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron — Deaths are climbing as cases skyrocket.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas— Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements— Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.
  3. Politics: Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health" — Focus group says Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy
  4. Economy: America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic— — CDC COVID guidance for cruise ships to be optional starting Saturday — The cost of testing.
  5. States: West Virginia governor feeling "extremely unwell" after positive test — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers — America struggles to keep schools open
  6. World: Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics — Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols.
  7. Variant tracker
10 hours ago - Sports

Novak Djokovic loses Australian visa appeal

Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays a forehand during a practice session ahead of the 2022 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 14, 2022. Photo: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

Tennis star Novak Djokovic left Australia on Sunday evening, facing a three-year visa ban after an appeals court in the country revoked his visa.

Driving the news: Djokovic will not be able to defend his Australian Open title when the tournament starts in Melbourne. The World No. 1 is looking to break a three-way tie with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for most Grand Slam men's singles titles.

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