Dr. Fauci, central figure in national coronavirus response, draws roots in southern Brooklyn

NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Fauci listens during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House
NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci listens during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the seasoned epidemiologist at the helm of the nation’s fight against the rapidly-spreading novel coronavirus, is the proud product of southern Brooklyn, where his mother and father ran their beloved family pharmacy for decades. 

Fauci, who has served as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases under six presidents, was born in Bensonhurst and later moved to Dyker Heights where his parents, Stephen and Eugenia Fauci, opened up Fauci Pharmacy on 13th Avenue and 83rd Street.

Now, at the age of 79, the infectious disease expert finds himself as somewhat of a pseudo-celebrity, having been appointed to the White House Coronavirus Task Force by President Donald Trump, where he has been hailed as one of the most trustworthy sources during the crisis, according to a study conducted by Business Insider.

Fauci’s long history of medicine began on 13th Avenue, where he delivered prescriptions for his parents as a young boy, his longtime friend John Gallin said at a 2007 ceremony for Fauci.

For elementary school, Fauci attended Our Lady of Guadalupe Academy, a Catholic school in Bensonhurst that closed last June, and later went to Regis High School, a free Catholic high school in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where he captained the school’s basketball team. 

Despite the family pharmacy having long-been shuttered, his friend said the respected doctor continues to exhibit Brooklyn qualities, which have proved helpful when steering through pandemics — such as the AIDS crisis, Ebola, and Zika.

“Tony’s experiences as the streetwise kid growing up in Brooklyn undoubtedly helped him weather the storms of activist groups,” Gallin said. “He was the target of their criticism and even burned in effigy. Instead of being angry, Tony noted the pain of the people in these activist groups and approached them as a physician approaches a suffering patient.”

For his work on the various outbreaks of deadly diseases worldwide, President George W. Bush awarded the medicine man the Presidential Medal of Freedom — considered to be the nation’s top civilian honor.  

To combat the current outbreak of COVID-19, the pandemic veteran has spoken up for emergency precautionary health measures, such as stay-at-home orders and domestic travel bans, and said the president’s extension of social distancing guidelines until the end of April was a “wise and prudent decision.”

“We feel that the mitigation that we are doing right now is having an effect, it is very difficult to quantitate because you have two dynamic things going on at the same time,” Fauci said at a March 29 press conference at the White House’s Rose Garden. “You have the virus going up and you have the mitigation trying to push it down”

Fauci has recently been vilified by far-right websites who believe he is working to undermine Trump, which they argue can be seen when he has corrected the president during press conferences, according to an article by the New York Times. 

Meanwhile, an upstate bakery Donuts Delite is selling batches upon batches of their special Fauci donuts, which display a printed headshot of the Brooklynite in place of the donut’s hole as an homage to the immunologist for serving on the frontline of the pandemic, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported.