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Dr. Fauci's 18-Hour Workday Includes Two Breaks and Answering ‘Emails Until I'm So Tired I Can't Do Anymore'

Dr. Anthony Fauci in a facemask
Chris Kleponis | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, has been working non-stop for months to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

President-elect Joe Biden asked Fauci to serve as his Chief Medical Advisor in addition to his longtime role as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on Thursday. "I said yes right on the spot," Fauci told NBC's "TODAY" on Friday.

Fauci, 79, has served six presidents over 36 years and has said his job is like "drinking out of a firehose."  

So, how does he manage his demanding job on a daily basis? He recently broke down his routine on a typical Wednesday in an interview with the Huffington Post's Jeffrey Young.

Early-morning interviews

The first thing Fauci does in the morning is appear on interviews for morning news shows about the pandemic, he told the Huffington Post. He said he wakes up at 5:10 a.m., showers, shaves and answers emails before a 6:30 a.m. interview with Good Morning America.

At 7 a.m., Fauci leaves his home in Northwest Washington D.C. to go to the National Institutes of Health headquarters. "There is not a day I don't go there," he told the Huffington Post.

Once at his office, Fauci does a couple more interviews, including a longer C-SPAN segment, a New York City radio interview and a TV interview for a station in Chicago. Over the course of this particular day, he did a total of nine interviews about Covid, with reporters from radio to print to scientific journals.  

Rounds at the research hospital

As a practicing physician, Fauci still sees patients at the NIH's Clinical Center. "I made rounds on two seriously ill Covid patients, which means I had to suit up in all of the PPE and all the other stuff that you do," he said.

It might be surprising that Fauci still makes time to see and treat patients, given all of his other responsibilities. But, "I do believe that one gets unique insights into disease when you actually physically interact with patients," he told Science Magazine in 2015. During the 2015 Ebola crisis, Fauci also treated patients himself.

Back-to-back Zoom meetings

Like many people who are working remotely during the pandemic, Fauci has to take several Zoom calls during the day. At 10 a.m., after making rounds, he always hosts a Zoom call with his "immediate office staff: my deputy, my chief of staff, my legislative person, my special assistants [and] people who are involved in public affairs," he said.

By 11 a.m. he is in another Zoom call "talking about the whole vaccine issue" with health officials from Health and Human Services and the NIH.

Later in the afternoon, from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Fauci has back-to-back Zoom meetings with the White House coronavirus task force and NIH scientists working on Moderna's Covid vaccine. (During that time, he also had to prepare an upcoming speech.)

Luckily, Fauci has people to help him manage his Zoom schedule. "I have two laptops that my tech person does," Fauci said. "As I'm finishing one Zoom, I give him the laptop and he gives me the other laptop that's already signed into the Zoom with the next group."

Two short breaks

Fauci only took two very short breaks during this day. One at 11 a.m. lasted 10-12 minutes, during which he "went to the bathroom and did a couple of emails," he said. He estimated that he receives "over 1,000 emails a day." Even though he has people on his staff screen the most important ones, there's still a few hundred to deal with.

From 1:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. he said he took another 20-minute break.

Evening power walks

At the end of the day, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Fauci spends time taking phone calls from mayors and governors. Around 6:30 or 7:00, he heads home.

Fauci's wife, Christine Grady, is a nurse bioethicist who often reminds him to take care of himself. "I try to get him to rest, to drink water, to eat well, to sleep and to be selective about what he agrees to and say no to some things," Grady told CNBC Make It in April.

"I don't socialize," Fauci told the Huffington Post. "It's my wife and I and the federal agents" who are responsible for protecting Fauci and his family after they received death threats.

To unwind, the couple goes on a power walk for 45 minutes before eating dinner. (Fauci said he orders takeout food to support local businesses a few times a week.) "Then I either do more press or do emails until I'm so tired I can't do anymore," he said.

Check out: Bill Gates on pandemic: By spring ‘we’ll be headed back to normal’ — here’s the ‘most impactful’ thing you can do now

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