President Donald Trump blasted The Washington Post for refusing to alter its headline he said took Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield's words out of context.
"I do want to mention a man who's done a very good job for us, Dr. Robert Redfield was misquoted in the media on a statement about the fall season and the virus," Trump told reporters at the beginning of an explosive coronavirus task force briefing Wednesday.
"Totally misquoted; I spoke to him, he said it was ridiculous. He was talking about the flu and coronavirus coming together at the same time. Coronavirus could have flareups we will take care of; we will knock it out fast; that's what he was referring to, coming together at the same time.
"He didn't say it was a big explosion. The headline in The Washington Post was totally inaccurate. The statement wasn't bad in the Post, but the headline was ridiculous, which is as I say, that's fake news and CNN is fake news, and they had the wrong story, which they knew. They were asked to change it, and they wouldn't do that. It was false."
Redfield admitted the quote was stated as the Post reported it, but the headline took his words out of context in suggesting the fall wave of the coronavirus would be worst than what the U.S. has experienced to date.
"I'm accurately quoted in The Washington Post as [it being] difficult, but the headline was inappropriate," Redfield said, when pressed on his words.
He meant it would merely be challenging when coupled with the seasonal flu.
"When I commented [Tuesday] that there was a possibility of the fall-winter, next fall-winter, could be more difficult, more complicated, if we have two respiratory illnesses circulating at the same time, influenza and coronavirus-19," Redfield clarified. "But I think it's really important to emphasize what I didn't say: I didn't say this was going to be worse; I said it was going to be more difficult and potentially complicated because we'll have flu and coronavirus circulating at the same time."
Redfield said his statement was made to help Americans stay vigilant in getting their flu vaccine before next fall.
"The key to my comments, and the reason I really wanted to stress them, was to appeal to the American public to embrace the flu vaccine with confidence," Redfield added. "One of the greatest tools we have as we go through the fall-winter season is to get the American public to embrace the influenza vaccine and thereby minimize the impact of flu to be the other respiratory disease we confront."
Trump and other coronavirus task force officials reiterated America was going to be better prepared to handle COVID-19 mitigation and containment in the fall, and the U.S. would not see a worse outbreak than it has already endured.
"I'm confident the public health infrastructure we are putting together now across this country, so we can early case diagnose, isolate, contact trace, block and tackle, that system is going to be there, and we are going to be able to contain this virus," Redfield said.
Dr. Deborah Birx reiterated hope Americans' new knowledge of respiratory illnesses will encourage them to get their flu vaccine and to be wary of all infectious diseases.
"Dr. Redfield clearly was asking for, just like we ask for every American to follow the guidelines, he's saying please add to that guideline getting the flu shot," Birx said.
Trump also expressed hope the worst is behind us and will not be coming back worse in the fall.
"In my opinion, from everything I've seen, it can never be like anything like we witnessed right now," Trump said. "What we've just gone through, we will not go through.
"You could have some embers of corona and a big flu system, and if they combine and come together, it's not great, but we will not go through what we went through for the last two months."
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