Story at a glance
- “The numbers are real,” Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday.
- “Go into the trenches, go into the hospitals, go into the intensive care units and see what is happening. Those are real numbers, real people and real deaths,” Fauci said.
- As the U.S. is experiencing a lag in the distribution of crucial vaccines, Fauci admitted there were “no excuses,” but urged patience as the program ramps up.
The nation’s top infectious diseases expert pushed back against President Trump’s claim that the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. has been exaggerated.
During an interview Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Anthony Fauci responded to the president’s tweet in which President Trump said the number of deaths was being inflated in the U.S. due to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) method for counting coronavirus fatalities, calling it “Fake News!”
The U.S. has reported more than 20 million cases and more than 350,000 deaths over the course of the pandemic; more than any other country in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
“The numbers are real,” Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said Sunday. “We have well over 300,000 deaths. We are averaging two to three thousand deaths per day.”
“Go into the trenches, go into the hospitals, go into the intensive care units and see what is happening. Those are real numbers, real people and real deaths,” Fauci said.
President Trump in a separate tweet fired back at Fauci.
“Something how Dr. Fauci is revered by the LameStream Media as such a great professional, having done, they say, such an incredible job, yet he works for me and the Trump Administration, and I am in no way given any credit for my work. Gee, could this be more Fake News?” Trump tweeted.
But Fauci wasn’t the only public health official to push back against President Trump’s allegations.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams on CNN’s “State of the Union” also contradicted President Trump’s statement on the COVID-19 death toll.
“From a public health perspective, I have no reason to doubt those numbers,” Adams said Sunday. “And I think people need to be very aware that it’s not just about deaths…It’s about the hospitalizations, the capacity. These cases are having an impact in an array of ways and people need to understand there’s a finish line in sight, but we’ve got to keep running toward it.”
As the U.S. is experiencing a lag in the distribution of crucial vaccines, Fauci admitted there were “no excuses,” but urged patience as the program ramps up.
“We are not where we want to be. But hopefully, we’ll pick up some momentum and get back to where we want to be in regard to getting it into people’s arms,” he said.
More than 13 million COVID-19 doses have been distributed across the country with more than 4.2 million people receiving the first dose as of Jan. 2, according to the CDC. That number is far below the Trump administration’s goal of administering the first dose to 20 million Americans before Jan 1.
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