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Fauci on planned Trump rallies: 'Now is even more so a worse time to do that'

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci says he puts 'very little weight in the craziness of condemning me' Beware language and the art of manipulation The Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare here to stay MORE, the nation’s infectious disease expert, on Monday warned that President TrumpDonald TrumpMaria Bartiromo defends reporting: 'Keep trashing me, I'll keep telling the truth' The Memo: The center strikes back Republicans eye Nashville crack-up to gain House seat MORE’s campaign rallies, where social distancing and mask-wearing aren’t required, are “asking for trouble” as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

Asked by CNN’s Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperPolice investigating death of TV anchor who uncovered Clinton tarmac meeting as suicide Mississippi governor: Biden goal of 70 percent of US vaccinated by July 4 is 'arbitrary' Energy secretary: Adversaries have capability of shutting down US power grid MORE if he is worried about the public health consequences of Trump’s rallies, Fauci replied, “We know that is asking for trouble when you do that. We’ve seen that when you have situations of congregate settings where there are a lot of people without masks, the data speak for themselves.” 

“And now is even more so a worse time to do that,” he added, pointing to an increase in the percentage of tests coming back positive across the country.

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The percentage of tests coming back positive is 5 percent higher in 32 states, a sign of growing outbreaks. 

“It's going in the wrong direction right now, so if there's anything we should be doing, we should be doubling down in implementing the public health measures that we've been talking about for so long, which are keeping a distance, no crowds wearing masks, washing hands, doing things outside as opposed to inside, in order to get those numbers down,” he said.

Following public health recommendations is especially important heading into the winter, when the cold weather pushes people inside, where the virus spreads more easily, he said.

“We’re entering into the cooler months of the fall and ultimately the cold months of the winter, and that's just a recipe of a real problem if we don't get things under control before we get into that seasonal challenge,” Fauci said. 

Trump is set to return to the campaign trail on Monday after his doctor cleared him for public events following his own COVID-19 diagnosis. He will hold a rally in Florida in the evening, followed by trips to Johnstown, Pa., Des Moines, Iowa, and Greenville, N.C., later in the week. 

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The president has held a number of rallies or events throughout the pandemic, flouting public health recommendations that are meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

Fauci last week called a series of White House events celebrating Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court a “superspreader event” after at least 34 White House staffers and contacts became infected with COVID-19. 

COVID-19 cases have also been linked to Trump’s rallies, including at a Minnesota event last month where nine people were infected. 

While masks at the rallies are encouraged, they are not required. The campaign also hands out hand sanitizer and performs temperature checks, but 40 to 45 percent of people with COVID-19 are thought to not show symptoms of the disease. 

People who sign up online for tickets to Trump campaign events must check a box releasing the campaign and venue from any liability if someone becomes sick after attending.