Washington — As coronavirus infections surge around the country while President Trump claims the nation is “rounding the turn” of the pandemic, the White House is again taking aim at Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, who offered a stark warning in a recent interview of what Americans are facing heading into the winter months.
The White House’s attack on Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, came in response to an interview he gave to The Washington Post published Saturday, in which he warned “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 told The Post that “we’re in for a whole lot of hurt” and offered an assessment of how both Joe Biden and Mr. Trump are approaching the coronavirus crisis — a comparison that came three days before the election.
Biden, Fauci said, “is taking it seriously from a public health perspective,” while Mr. Trump is “looking at it from a different perspective,” one focused on “the economy and reopening the country.”
Fauci’s remarks drew a bruising response from White House spokesman Judd Deere, who praised Mr. Trump’s handling of the pandemic and accused Fauci of attempting to bolster Biden’s candidacy.
“It’s unacceptable and breaking with all norms for Dr. Fauci, a senior member of the President’s Coronavirus Taskforce and someone who has praised President Trump’s actions throughout this pandemic, to choose three days before an election to play politics,” Deere said in a lengthy statement. “As a member of the Task Force, Dr. Fauci has a duty to express concerns or push for a change in strategy, but he’s not done that, instead choosing to criticize the president in the media and make his political leanings known by praising the president’s opponent— exactly what the American people have come to expect from The Swamp.”
Deere said Fauci “may have just admitted that he is afraid the cure will be worse than the disease” and said the president “always put the well-being of the American people first.”
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has surpassed 9.1 million and more than 230,000 people have died from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University. Public health experts have warned for weeks the nation is likely to face a difficult winter, and infections are rising in more than three dozen states. The White House has been focused on a vaccine, though health experts say one likely won’t be ready for distribution to the general population until well into 2021.
Mr. Trump, meanwhile, has claimed in recent days that the pandemic and warnings about the latest surge in cases are a ploy by the media to damage his reelection prospects.
“Until November 4th., Fake News Media is going full on Covid, Covid, Covid. We are rounding the turn. 99.9%,” Mr. Trump tweeted last week.
In a campaign call with campaign staffers on October 20, the president attacked Fauci directly, calling him a “disaster.”
“People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots, these people, these people that have gotten it wrong,” Mr. Trump said.
The president has continued to defy local and state public health guidelines even amid the spike in new cases and his own diagnosis with COVID-19, holding rallies with thousands of maskless attendees packed close together.
Biden, meanwhile, has been holding drive-in rallies, where supporters remain in their vehicles.