The nation’s top infectious disease expert warned Tuesday against taking comfort in the declining death rate of COVID-19 — just as the President did a few hours earlier.
During an event with Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), Anthony Fauci — director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — called celebrations of the declining death rate a “false narrative.”
“It’s a false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death,” Fauci said. “There’s so many other things that are very dangerous and bad about this virus, don’t get yourself into false complacency.” Axios first flagged Fauci’s comments Tuesday.
The remarks contrasted directly with what President Donald Trump has said about the virus: Trump falsely claimed Tuesday that the United States’ COVID-19 mortality rate was the lowest in the world.
The percentage of confirmed COVID-19 cases that end in death is higher in the United States than plenty of other countries.
Still, the mortality rate has decreased over time in the United States. Fauci agreed with a reporter who asked Tuesday whether that was a function of younger people being infected, and of treatment strategies becoming more effective.
“We definitely are better now at treating individuals,” Fauci said. (Responding to the reporter’s third point, Fauci said it has not been established that the virus has weakened over time.)
The doctor also said Tuesday that, unlike other nations, the United States never returned to a “baseline” because of the regional nature of the virus.
“We have peaked at a high level,” he said, staying at around 20,000 new cases confirmed daily for months. That is, until states began attempting to “reopen” their economies, Fauci added. Confirmed new cases have now hovered around 50,000 nationwide for several days in a row.
“We now have a resurgence,” Fauci said.