Health and Wellness

White House advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci on burnout: 'I am running a bit on fumes' but 'doing fine'

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens to U.S. President Donald Trump speak at the daily briefing of the White House Coronavirus Task Force in the briefing room at the White House April 16, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong | Getty Images

It's been over four months since the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic and it's far from over: With infections in hot spots like California and Florida spiking, the U.S. reported an average of 53,699 news cases during the first week in July, a record seven-day average, according to CNBC analysis of data collected by Johns Hopkins.

Throughout, White House advisor and top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci has been at the forefront of the country's response. On Wednesday, when asked how he's coping, Fauci said he's hanging in there.

"I'm doing okay; I'm doing fine. I am running a bit on fumes, but as they say, the fumes are really thick," Fauci, 79, said in an interview with The Atlantic. "It's enough to keep me going."

Right now, Fauci has had the added stress of being criticized by a member of the Trump administration. Senior trade advisor, Peter Navarro, wrote in a USA Today op-ed published on Tuesday that Fauci "has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on." (Fauci called the criticism "bizarre," and the Trump told reporters, "We're all on the same team.")

Fauci, who at one point during the pandemic was working 20 hour days and only getting about three hours of sleep a night, said he tries to ignore such distractions.

"I wish we didn't have a lot of those distractions, which I think are noise that gets in the way. But I put that aside, try not to let it bother me, and just move ahead," Fauci told The Atlantic.

Fauci has credited his wife of 35 years, Christine Grady, a nurse bioethicist, for reminding him to take care of himself during the pandemic. 

Grady told CNBC Make It in April that she tries to push to get Fauci to get proper rest and to drink water during his long days. She said they also like to excercise together, schedules permitting. "We like to power walk, and have succeeded in walking a few times together," she said.

"Thank goodness I have a very intelligent and clinically skilled wife who turned things around and said, 'You got to remember to eat, and you've got to remember to sleep,'" Fauci told National Geographic in a story published in May.

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