Trump, Fauci spar over U.S. coronavirus response


Trump jokes about potentially firing NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci.

President Donald Trump joked about potentially firing National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony S. Fauci after the election, as Fauci criticized the United States’ handling of coronavirus pandemic.

Fauci said the U.S. needs to make an “abrupt change” in public health practices and behaviors and is “in for a whole lot of hurt” heading into the winter season, The Washington Post reported.

Related: Pfizer: COVID-19 vaccine likely ready late November

The U.S. set a new daily coronavirus case record October 30, peaking at 98,859. The country could surpass 100,000 new cases a day and the death rate will also likely increase, according to Fauci.

Deaths from COVID-19 have surpassed 230,000 since the start of the pandemic.

However, leading up to the election, Trump has downplayed the pandemic and has praised his Administration’s response to it. “You live with [the coronavirus], and you know what to do — we understand it now, you’ve got to understand it. But we’re making that beautiful turn, and the vaccines are coming,” the president said at a rally recently, Vox reported.

At a rally in Florida last week, when the crowd chanted, “Fire Fauci, Fire Fauci,” Trump responded, “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election. I appreciate the advice,” The New York Times reported.

Related: Trump, Fauci disagree on the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine

Meanwhile, Fauci warned Americans about the pandemic worsening.

“We’re in for a whole lot of hurt. All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors,” he said in an interview The Washington Post reported. “You could not possibly be positioned more poorly.”

Fauci also said the White House coronavirus task force meets less frequently and has far less influence as the president and his top advisers have focused on reopening the country. “Right now, the public health aspect of the task force has diminished greatly,” he said.

Fauci added he has not spoken to Trump since early October. “The last time I spoke to the president was not about any policy; it was when he was recovering in Walter Reed, he called me up,” he said.

Read more: U.S. government, AstraZeneca team up on COVID-19 preventative med

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