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Dr. Fauci responds to ‘mischievous’ criticism after he was photographed with mask off at Nationals game

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday that criticism of a photo in which he had his face mask partially down is “sort of mischievous.”

In an interview on “America’s Newsroom,” Fauci told host John Roberts that he had been sitting next to his wife, Dr. Christine Grady, and a very close friend of his.

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“I had my mask around my chin. I had taken it down. I was totally dehydrated and I was drinking water trying to rehydrate myself,” he explained. “And, by the way, I was negative COVID literally the day before.”

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, center, walks through empty stands after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at Nationals Park before the New York Yankees and the Washington Nationals play an opening day baseball game, Thursday, July 23, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, center, walks through empty stands after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at Nationals Park before the New York Yankees and the Washington Nationals play an opening day baseball game, Thursday, July 23, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

“So, I guess people want to make it a big event. I wear a mask all the time when I’m outside. To pull it down to take some sips of water and put it back up again — I guess if people want to make something about that they can,” he said. “But to me, I think that’s just mischievous, John.”

Critics took to Twitter to attack Fauci for the photo.

New York Magazine and Huffington Post contributing writer Yashar Ali reprimanded the doctor.

“Dr. Fauci should be setting a better example,” he tweeted. Ali has over 662,000 followers on the social media platform.

The photo was taken by The Associated Press’s Alex Brandon at Nationals Park. The infectious disease specialist and Washington Nationals “super fan” threw the first pitch at Thursday night’s game, making waves on social media with an errant toss.

“Well, besides the fact that I bounced it, it was an awesome feeling to be out there. … To throw that pitch was such a great feeling,” he said.

It was Opening Day for Major League Baseball in a season cut short by pandemic restrictions.

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According to the New York Post, the Brooklyn-born 79-year-old had previously admitted to first baseman Ryan Zimmerman he was “quite nervous” about pitching.

It was also a typical hot and humid day in Washington, D.C. with highs in the 90s.

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