As the coronavirus pandemic worsens and questions swirl about how schools will operate in the fall, the White House is taking aim at Dr. Anthony Fauci, America's top infectious disease expert.
Fauci, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has expressed concern over the skyrocketing number of new virus cases that have cropped up since late June. Over the weekend, the White House and President Donald Trump himself tried to paint a poor picture of Fauci as the administration grapples with the pandemic, the economy, and Trump's reelection campaign.
A White House official told CNN on Saturday, "several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things."
The same official provided what was essentially opposition research on Fauci in the form of bullet points with examples of when the White House said he was wrong about the virus, particularly in the early days of the pandemic.
Senior officials within the Trump administration have told CNN that they do not trust Fauci, nor do they think he has the best interest of Trump in mind. Others told the network that Fauci is only worried about public health, nothing else.
The Trump administration is constantly trying to downplay the threat of the virus despite the number of cases rapidly rising. There have been more than 40,000 cases every day since June 25. On Friday, a record 71,787 cases were confirmed.
Fauci recently warned that the U.S. could see 100,000 new COVID-19 cases daily in the near future unless more measures are taken to control how Americans gather in public. People have flocked to beaches, bars, and restaurants as states reopen their economies. Nationwide protests about police brutality have also led to thousands of people marching in close proximity to others.
Fauci said last week that states with severe outbreaks of the virus "should seriously look at shutting down" to help control the spread.
Trump has responded to Fauci's concerns by saying, "I think we are in a good place. I disagree with him. Dr. Fauci said don't wear masks and now he says wear them. And he said numerous things. Don't close off China. Don't ban China. I did it anyway. I didn't listen to my experts and I banned China. We would have been in much worse shape."
Fauci has said he recommended that people not wear masks in the early days of the pandemic in order to save them for frontline healthcare workers, who faced major shortages of personal protective equipment for months. Some reports suggest the PPE shortages continue.
For several weeks, Fauci and other members of the virus task force addressed the media on a near-daily basis with updates on the virus fight. Fauci also gave several interviews, but the White House has cracked down by limiting his media appearances, The Washington Post reported.
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