Donald Trump watches as Dr Anthony Fauci speaks to reporters at a White House Coronavirus briefing (Brendan Smialowski/AFP)
With his priority on “re-opening” the US over public health, Donald Trump challenges the expertise of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top White House advisor on Coronavirus.
On Tuesday, Fauci and Dr. Robert Redfield, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director, told a Senate committee about the risks of quickly lifting stay-at-home and social distancing measures.
Fauci warned of “suffering and death that could be avoided” and further damage to the economy:
If some areas, cities, states or what-have-you, jump over those various checkpoints and prematurely open up without having the capability of being able to respond effectively and efficiently, my concern is that we will start to see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks.
The evaluation pushed back on Trump’s pursuit of “re-opening”, initially by April 12 and then by May 1. Trump has encouraged illegal, armed protests to pressure State Governors and has said that more US deaths — now officially more than 84,000 — are a price to be paid for renewed economic activity.
He told reporters on Wednesday, “I was surprised by his answer. To me it’s not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to schools.”
Trump jabbed, “He wants to play all sides of the equation.”
Trump: I Know Better Than Fauci About Schools
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had told Senators of the emergence of a dangerous inflammatory Coronavirus-related syndrome that is affecting children, some of whom have died. Health officials in New York were investigating more than 100 cases of the syndrome.
GOP Sen. Rand Paul, who denied the significance of Coronavirus until he tested positive for it in March, challenged Fauci with the claim that schools can reopen since children suffer relatively few deaths.
The doctor responded:
I think we better be careful, if we are not cavalier, in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects.
You’re right in the numbers that children in general do much, much better than adults and the elderly and particularly those with underlying conditions. But I am very careful and hopefully humble in knowing that I don’t know everything about this disease. And that’s why I’m very reserved in making broad predictions.
Trump brushed aside the analysis,
I was surprised by his answer….Now where you have an incident, one out of a million, one out of 500,000, will something happen? Perhaps. But, you know, you can be driving to school and some bad things can happen, too. We’re going to open our country. We want it open.
Trump rebukes Fauci, says his testimony about how opening schools amid a pandemic might not be a great idea was "just not an acceptable answer."
"This is a disease that attacks age. It attacks health," Trump adds. pic.twitter.com/qgdOG8qvKZ
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 13, 2020
The CDC says 2% of almost 1.4 million confirmed US cases are of children under 18. As of May 6, there were 10 deaths in children 14 and younger and 48 in those between the ages of 15 and 24.
The National Institutes of Health announced last week that it is starting a large study to learn more about Coronavirus in children.
During White House Coronavirus briefings, Fauci refrained from direct challenges to Trump. However, the doctor has used interviews to push back Trump’s disinformation and false claims.
White House staff limited Fauci’s appearances alongside Trump from early April, and have now discontinued the briefings. They have been replaced with Trump’s attempt to shape narrative through addresses to reporters.
But on Monday the effort ran into trouble when Trump put out misleading and false claims about the level of US testing; told an Asian-American journalist, “Go ask China”, when she asked an uncomfortable question; and abruptly ended the conference to avoid an inquiry from a CNN reporter.