The war of words between the Trump administration and Anthony Fauci, one of the leading experts on pandemics in the U.S. for the last four decades, continues. Appearing on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace, President Trump said there was no campaign to discredit Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for three decades.
Wallace asked Trump about a Facebook
post by Daniel Scavino, White House deputy chief of staff for communications, depicting Fauci as a faucet with the description: “Sorry, Dr. Faucet! At least you know if I’m going to disagree with a colleague, such as yourself, it’s done publicly — and not cowardly, behind journalists with leaks.” Trump did not quite dismiss Scavino’s criticisms.
‘Well, I don’t know that he’s a leaker. He’s a little bit of an alarmist. That’s OK. A little bit of an alarmist.’
— President Donald Trump on Anthony Fauci
The president suggested that the doctor mishandled the crisis: “Dr. Fauci at the beginning said, ‘This will pass. Don’t worry about it. This will pass.’ He was wrong.” Trump also said the doctor said, “ ‘Don’t ban China. Don’t ban China.’ I did. He then admitted that I was right.”
On April 13, when reporters questioned Fauci about possible tension between him and the White House, Fauci said he made recommendations to Trump to restrict travel. “And the answer was yes,” Fauci said. “And then another time was, ‘We should do it with Europe,’ and the answer was yes. And the next time, ‘We should do it with the U.K.,’ and the answer was yes.”
Speaking to Wallace on the Sunday program, Trump also said, “I don’t agree with the statement that if everybody [wears] a mask everything disappears.” The president has rarely worn a mask in public and has not said Americans should do so. In a break with his tradition of eschewing any face covering, he wore one last weekend while visiting Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. (Several aides and allies tweeted their insistence that the masked Trump was showing leadership and political strength.)
Fauci has taken a more defiant tone of late, telling InStyle magazine, “With all due modesty, I think I’m pretty effective. I certainly am energetic. And I think everybody thinks I’m doing more than an outstanding job.” He said he evolved with the situation: “I don’t regret anything I said then because in the context of the time in which I said it, it was correct.”
He said, “We were told in our task-force meetings that we have a serious problem with the lack of PPEs and masks for the health providers who are putting themselves in harm’s way every day to take care of sick people,” adding, “When it became clear that the infection could be spread by asymptomatic carriers … we had to strongly recommend masks.”
Fauci has said that the U.S. government should promote social distancing and could do better with contact tracing.
The doctor also said SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes the disease known as COVID-19, will continue to spread unless everyone steps up their game. Fauci said that many states have reopened too quickly, and, addressing people who don’t advocate social distancing, he said, “You’re propagating the pandemic.”
As of Sunday evening, COVID-19 had infected at least 14.4 million people globally and 3.8 million in the U.S. It had killed over 605,116 people worldwide and at least 140,500 in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
Fauci has repeatedly said that the U.S. government should promote social distancing and could do better with contact tracing, the process of tracking people who have been in contact with someone who has the virus, and instructing them to stay home for 14 days. “I don’t think we’re doing very well, for a number of reasons, and not all of which is the fault of the system.”
The World Health Organization currently estimates that 16% of people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic and can transmit the coronavirus, while other data show that 40% of coronavirus transmission is due to carriers not displaying symptoms of the illness. As a result, public health officials have advised people to keep a distance of 6 feet from one another.
A recent University of California, San Francisco, study found that there’s a high load of SARS-CoV-2 shedding in the upper respiratory tract, even among pre-symptomatic patients, “which distinguishes it from SARS-CoV-1, where replication occurs mainly in the lower respiratory tract.” Such a viral load makes symptom-based detection of infection less effective in the case of SARS CoV-2, it said.
The markets appear torn between optimism on vaccine research and the economic impact of new surges in southern and southwestern states. The Dow Jones Industrial Index
closed lower Friday, though stocks posted modest weekly gains, as investors looked toward the prospect of further fiscal stimulus. The S&P 500
and Nasdaq Composite
ended up slightly.