Trump challenges Fauci over comments on coronavirus surges: ‘Wrong!’

President Trump on Saturday publicly rejected Anthony Fauci’s analysis of why the United States has experienced a surge in coronavirus cases, claiming that the nation’s top infectious disease expert wasn’t accounting for the country’s testing capacity. 

“Wrong!” Trump said in a tweet that linked to a video of Fauci’s Friday testimony before Congress. 

In a hearing focused on the federal response to the global health crisis, Fauci said the U.S. was experiencing a much more severe resurgence in coronavirus cases than countries in Europe because many states failed to completely shut down. 

“If you look at what happened in Europe when they shut down or locked down or went into shelter in place … they really did it to the tune of about 95-plus percent of the country did that,” Fauci said. 

“When you actually look at what we did, even though we shut down, even though we created a great deal of difficulty, we really functionally shut down only about 50 percent in the sense of the totality of the country,” he added. 

Trump, who has repeatedly touted the country’s testing capacity in the face of criticism, claimed in his Saturday tweet that the reason the U.S. had such a high case count was because “we have tested far more than any other country.”

“If we tested less, there would be less cases. How did Italy, France & Spain do? Now Europe sadly has flare ups. Most of our governors worked hard & smart. We will come back STRONG,” Trump said. 

The comments marked the latest instance in which tensions between those in the White House and Fauci have spilled out into the open. Several administration officials have publicly questioned Fauci’s health assessments, with White House trade adviser Peter Navarro writing in a USA Today op-ed last month that Americans should view the health expert’s advice with skepticism. 

Trump last week retweeted a message that Fauci has “misled” the American people on a variety of issues, including the safety of the controversial anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine. Fauci responded by saying that he has not misled the public about the pandemic. 

As of Sunday morning, the U.S. had reported more than 4.6 million cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and roughly 154,000 deaths stemming from it, according to a Johns Hopkins University database. A sustained surge in infections in recent months spurred many states to halt reopening plans and implement mask mandates. 

Trump has continually cited the country’s testing capacity as the reason for these surges. Health experts, including Fauci, have said, however, that an uptick in cases cannot be explained by an increase in testing. 

Fauci reiterated this point during his testimony on Friday, stating that the surge in cases was caused by several factors, including states not abiding “strictly by the guidelines that the task force and the White House had put out” when beginning a phased reopening. 

Trump has maintained that he has a good relationship with Fauci, who polls have shown is one of the most trusted voices in the country speaking about the health crisis. 

“He’s got this high approval rating, so why don’t I have a high approval rating … with respect to the virus?” Trump asked aloud at a White House press conference on Monday. 

Tags Anthony Fauci Coronavirus COVID-19 Donald Trump Pandemic testing

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