The White House continued its efforts to discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of its own coronavirus task force, as the nation’s top infectious disease expert has become notably more outspoken about the Trump administration’s missteps in its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic just days before Election Day.
In an interview with the Washington Post published Saturday evening, Fauci issued a stern warning about COVID-19 surges in the months to come, saying that the country is positioned “poorly” to reduce the spread of the infectious disease that has killed more than 225,000 Americans thus far.
“We’re in for a whole lot of hurt. It’s not a good situation,” Fauci told the Post in an interview that the paper said took place late Friday. “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.”
In light of the holiday season nearing, Fauci told the Post that the country needs to make an “abrupt change” with public health practices and behaviors, while warning that the country could surpass 100,000 new coronavirus cases a day and predicting rising COVID-19 fatalities in the coming weeks.
Fauci also told the Post that while Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign “is taking it seriously from a public health perspective,” Trump’s re-election campaign is “looking at it from a different perspective” of “reopening the country.”
The White House didn’t like that. The morning after Fauci’s remarks were published by the Post, White House spokesperson Judd Deere issued a lengthy statement blasting Fauci by accusing him of “playing politics” in the days before the election.
“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.
Deere attacked Fauci for being at odds with the President, who has repeatedly offered his wrong but rosy assessment of the country “rounding the turn” on COVID-19 to rally-goers in the final days leading up to the election.
“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.
Deere said that Fauci “has no confidence in the American people to make the best choice for themselves armed with CDC best practices.”
"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," @JuddPDeere45 in statement. pic.twitter.com/X5SC9hC3vX
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) November 1, 2020
Fauci’s remarks to the Post were made as the country hit record highs on COVID-19 case counts in recent days, which includes nearly hitting 100,000 in a single day just last week.
The President, who has railed against media coverage of COVID-19 during his recent campaign rallies, has continued to falsely insist that the country is “rounding the turn” on the pandemic while touting the therapeutics he was treated with during his hospitalization for COVID-19 last month. During a phone call with campaign staffers last month, Trump called Fauci a “disaster” and public health experts “idiots.”