The White House on Sunday issued a scorching rebuke of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US government’s foremost disease expert, accusing him of “play[ing] politics” in a recent interview about the ongoing dangers of the coronavirus.
Fauci told the Washington Post on Friday that the US was in for “a whole lot of hurt” and contradicted President Trump’s rosy assessment of the virus that has killed 230,000 Americans and infected millions more.
“All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly,” Fauci said.
Fauci, who has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, has scrupulously avoided taking a stand on electoral politics throughout his career, and in his interview he did not endorse either candidate, although he said that Democrat Joe Biden’s campaign was being more careful about taking precautions to avoid spreading coronavirus at speeches and rallies.
Trump has repeatedly insisted that the US is “rounding the corner” with coronavirus, downplaying surges and attacking local governments’ efforts to curtail the spread. He has even suggested that it should be illegal for the media to aggressively cover the virus so close to the Nov. 3 election, and that “on Nov. 4 you won’t hear about it anymore.”
Coronavirus cases are surging in a number of states, which Trump has dismissed as the result of increased testing. But serious hospitalisations are straining local health systems, and Trump himself spent several days in the hospital last month after testing positive.