Ex-CIA director Panetta: Trump has 'essentially gone AWOL' amid pandemic
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Former CIA Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta this week accused President TrumpDonald John TrumpTeachers union launches 0K ad buy calling for education funding in relief bill FDA head pledges 'we will not cut corners' on coronavirus vaccine Let our values drive COVID-19 liability protection MORE of having gone "AWOL" when it comes to leading the country during the coronavirus pandemic.

Panetta told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Wednesday that Trump has “essentially gone AWOL from the job of leadership that he should be providing a country in trouble,” noting that the pandemic is a "major crisis.”

“But the president, rather than bringing together some kind of national strategy to confront this crisis, simply resorts to tweeting about vandalism and other things to kind of divert attention from the crisis that’s there," said Panetta, who served under former President Obama and also served as White House chief of staff under President Clinton.

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Panetta pointed to recent warnings from Anthony FauciAnthony FauciPublic health expert: 50 percent effective coronavirus vaccine would be 'better than what we have now' Overnight Health Care: Trump to take executive action after coronavirus talks collapse | Vaccine official says he'd resign if pressured politically Fauci's DC neighbors put up 'thank you' signs in their yards MORE, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a key member of the White House coronavirus task force.

Fauci has warned that recent spike of COVID-19 cases has sent the U.S. in the wrong direction and the U.S. could eventually see 100,000 new cases a day if something isn't done to reverse course.

Several states and cities across the country have mandated that people now wear masks while out in public as part of an effort to stem the spread of the disease.

President Trump said in an interview this week that he has "no problem" with wearing a mask, but maintained that the virus will eventually "disappear."

Health experts worldwide have warned that the pandemic won't end until there's a widespread vaccine, something that could take until next year to produce.

The U.S. on Thursday set a record for daily new COVID-19 cases with 55,220, surpassing Wednesday's record mark of 52,789.