The nation's top expert on infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a prominent member of the White House coronavirus task force, underwent outpatient surgery Thursday morning to remove a polyp on his vocal cord.
Fauci's office confirmed to ABC News that he is home now and resting.
Fauci has become one of the most recognizable voices during the health crisis, often providing a counterpoint to President Donald Trump's insistence that the virus would "disappear" on its own. He has blamed his raspy voice on his frequent speaking engagements aimed at urging Americans to take the virus seriously, wear a cloth mask and avoid large gatherings.
CNN first reported the development, quoting Fauci at the Economic Club of Washington in April as saying "when you get your voices damaged a little -- I probably have a polyp there -- the only way to get better is to keep your mouth shut."
It was not immediately clear when the 79-year-old doctor might return to the speaking circuit or if he might embrace social media in the meantime as a way to communicate his message (Fauci notably does not have an official Twitter account.)
Fauci's advice to governors this spring not to reopen businesses too soon prompted swift and angry pushback from many conservatives who said his recommendations weren't practical and irritated voters. The White House eventually sidelined Fauci, seldom summoning him to the White House and no longer inviting him to participate in regular on-camera press briefings on the virus.
Fauci responded to being shunned by the White House by accepting invitations to speak at virtual conferences, sometimes several a day and speaking for an hour at a time. In the livestream discussions, which were widely covered by the media, he avoided directly contradicting the president but suggested that White House pushback on masks and economic closures has kept the U.S. from being able to tackle the health crisis.
“The problem from a public health standpoint, is to try and get the country to act in a uniform consistent way to get the infection down to a very low baseline, which would make it much easier to be able to open up the country, in a safe and prudent way to get the economy back," he said earlier this week during a virtual talk with the Commonwealth Club.
“A consistent message, you know, from above would really be a very, very important factor in getting to where we want to be,” he said.