Story at a glance
- Tensions between the White House and Anthony Facui have been escalating recently as members of the Trump administration have criticized the infectious disease expert’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Azar said “nobody should be concerned” that Fauci will leave the Trump administration.
- The HHS secretary also said the recent worsening of coronavirus outbreaks in Southern and Western states was not the result of efforts to reopen economies too early, but of a failure among people, particularly young people, to practice public health recommendations.
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar on Tuesday said infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci remains a trusted adviser to the Trump administration and will continue to contribute “his ideas and views,” according to the Chicago Tribune.
Tensions between the Trump administration and Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), have been escalating in recent days after a White House official sent media outlets a long list of “mistakes” they claimed Fauci made over the course of the pandemic.
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Fauci’s frank assessments of the course of the outbreak have at times clashed with the Trump administration’s messaging, which has often sought to downplay the severity of the virus in the U.S. to push for a reopening of the economy. The rift has fueled speculation about whether Fauci would be ousted from his role.
“The president builds teams where each of us provide our inputs from our perspective, and his job as president is to take those inputs and the different perspectives, de-conflict them and come about with what he believes in the direction he’s going to provide the country,” Azar said Tuesday according to The Chicago Tribune.
“But Dr. Fauci, as the president has made clear, is one of his trusted advisers and will remain so. Nobody should be concerned. Dr. Fauci is and will remain a trusted adviser to the president and myself,” he said.
President Trump on Monday shared a Twitter post accusing doctors and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of “lying” in order to influence the November election, and Dan Scavino, deputy chief of staff for communications, shared a cartoon via Facebook Sunday depicting Fauci as a faucet flushing the U.S. economy down the drain due to his health guidance on the pandemic.
Trump later said he has a “very good relationship” with Fauci, downplaying the existence of a rift with the government’s top infectious diseases expert.
More recently, the White House moved to distance itself from an op-ed published in USA Today Wednesday, in which trade adviser Peter Navarro criticized Fauci’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Navarro in the piece headlined “Anthony S. Fauci has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on,” cited several instances when he disagreed with Fauci.
“The Peter Navarro op-ed didn’t go through normal White House clearance processes and is the opinion of Peter alone,” White House spokeswoman Alyssah Farah said in a tweet. “@realDonaldTrump values the expertise of the medical professionals advising his administration.”
Fauci, who has advised six presidents, on Tuesday said the public can trust him when he provides guidance on the pandemic based on his track record.
“I believe, for the most part, you can trust respected medical authorities,” Fauci said during a Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service event. “I believe I’m one of them, so I think you can trust me.”
Azar was in Chicago Tuesday visiting Rush University Medical Center and Haymarket Center to encourage health care professionals to continue medical procedures that have experienced a drop in frequency due to the coronavirus.
The HHS secretary spoke on the recent coronavirus spikes in Southern and Western states, saying it was not the result of efforts to reopen economies too early, but of a failure among people, particularly young people, to practice public health recommendations.
“Quite clearly, people went from being locked down to…behaviors that were not consistent with our recommendations,” he told The Chicago Tribune.
“We’ve got to act responsibly as individuals,” Azar said. “Because if we don’t act responsibly as individuals, that freedom gets taken away from us.”
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