Key Words: With resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., Trump signals rift with Fauci: ‘He’s made a lot of mistakes’

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With a resurgence of coronavirus cases in the U.S. and states pausing their reopening plans, President Trump pointed a finger at Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for three decades and one of the leading experts on pandemics in the U.S. for four decades. Fauci told the Financial Times that he has not briefed the president since June 2.

“Dr. Fauci’s a nice man, but he’s made a lot of mistakes,” Trump told Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News. “Like you don’t have to ban them coming in from very infected China. I did it anyway and we saved hundreds of thousands of lives. I banned Europe from coming in when Italy and France and Spain were having all the problems.”

‘They’ve been wrong about a lot things, including face masks.’

— President Donald Trump speaking to Sean Hannity on Fox News Thursday evening

“They’ve been wrong about a lot things, including face masks,” Trump said. “Maybe they’re wrong, maybe not, but a lot of them said don’t wear a mask, don’t wear a mask. Now they are saying wear a mask. So a lot of mistakes were made — a lot of mistakes.” The president has rarely worn a mask in public and has not said Americans should wear masks.

On April 13, Fauci said he made recommendations to Trump to restrict travel. “The travel was another recommendation, when we went in and said, ‘We probably should be doing that.’ And the answer was ‘yes.’ And then another time was, ‘We should do it with Europe,’ and the answer was ‘yes.’ And the next time, ‘We should do it with the U.K.,’ and the answer was ‘yes.’

Trump has previously been circumspect on masks. On April 3, the administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed their policies on masks, and said everyone should wear face masks and not — as it previously said — just medical workers. Trump cited “recent studies” of asymptomatic transmission for the U-turn, while the CDC cited “new evidence.”

On that same day, Trump said his administration recommends wearing cloth face coverings. However, he said he won’t wear a mask himself. “From recent studies, we know that the transmission from individuals without symptoms is playing a more significant role in the spread of the virus than previously understood. You don’t have to do it. I’m choosing not to do it.”

‘You don’t have to do it. I’m choosing not to do it.’

— President Trump speaking about wearing face masks on April 3

On April 15, Cuomo issued an executive order requiring New Yorkers to wear masks in public. That includes a crosswalk, street corner, train/bus, supermarket and/or pharmacy. “Put the mask on when you are not in socially distant places. It is your right to go out for a walk in the park, go out for a walk because you need to get out of the house. Fine, don’t infect me. You don’t have a right to infect me.”

Last week, Fauci said the U.S. government has not been doing well with contact tracing, the process of tracing people who have been in contact with someone who has the virus, and instructing them to stay home for 14 days. “I don’t think we’re doing very well, for a number of reasons, and not all of which is the fault of the system.” said Elizabeth Cohen on CNN T, +0.95%

T, +0.95% Studies have concluded that face masks have helped reduce contagion by reducing droplets being sprayed into the air during flu season; another Japanese-based study says this works when paired with vaccination, not an option for most Americans. It may be that they work in a small amount of cases and/or just wearing them helps to promote healthy behaviors.

The scientists writing in The New England Journal of Medicine found that the novel coronavirus was detectable in the air for up to three hours, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. Above all else, health professionals recommend washing hands, cleaning surfaces and “social distancing” in public spaces.

Last Tuesday, in an interview livestreamed on Twitter TWTR, -2.01% and Facebook FB, -0.76% with the head of the National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, Fauci said that unlike Europe, U.S. communities “never came down to baseline and now are surging back up” and “we’re still knee-deep in the first wave.”

Fauci previously said the virus may be mutating to become more transmissible, and focused on three main failings by both the public and authorities: Many states have reopened too quickly, people are not abiding by rules of social distancing, and the authorities could do a better job at contact tracing to track people who’ve been in contact with those who test positive.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, had infected 12.3 million people globally and over 3 million in the U.S. as of Friday, according to official figures collated by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering. The disease had claimed at least 555,977 lives worldwide and 133,420 in the U.S.

Fauci said this month that America needs to balance the needs of the nation’s economic and public health; he said people need to social distance and wear face masks. “We do need to open up again, no doubt about it, we want to get the economy back, but you’ve got to do it in a measured way, and now we’re seeing the consequence of community spread.”

How COVID-19 is transmitted