Donald Trump watches as Dr Anthony Fauci speaks to reporters at a White House Coronavirus briefing (File/Brendan Smialowski/AFP)
Donald Trump plays golf and his camp trashes the White House’s top Coronavirus expert Anthony Fauci.
Meanwhile, Florida sets a single-day US record for infections, exceeded by only three countries, with the virus surging through most of America.
The US death toll is now 135,205. Confirmed cases have reached 3,304,942, an increase of more than 120,000 in 48 hours.
All but three states have rising rates of infection, with 20 recording surges of more than 50% over the past two weeks.
Florida’s announcement of 15,299 cases on Sunday topped California’s 11,694, set on Wednesday, and New York’s 11,571 on 15 April. Only the US itself, India, and Brazil have returned a higher daily toll since the start of the pandemic.
Texas announced a record number of hospitalizations for the 14th day in a row, and another 8,196 cases.
Trump Camp: Fauci Does Not Uphold “National Interest”
As the virus has surged, Trump has stepped up his attacks on Dr. Fauci, who has defied a White House ban on US interviews to explain that the US is “still in the first wave” with the prospect of a “very high” death toll.
Last Tuesday, Trump proclaimed that Fauci was “wrong”. On Thursday, he told his friend Sean Hannity on Fox TV that the doctor “made a lot of mistakes”.
Trump’s advisors then released briefing points to the media that “several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things”. A “senior administration official” said that Fauci no longer briefs Trump and is “never in the Oval [Office] anymore”. Another said the expert last spoke to Trump in early June.
In a Sunday TV interview, Assistant Health Secretary Adm. Brett Giroir continued the attacks, proclaiming that Fauci “is not 100% right” and does not necessarily “have the whole national interest in mind”.
Giroir belittled Fauci’s views, “He looks at it from a very narrow public health point of view.”
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) July 12, 2020
Since May, the White House has barred Fauci and other medical health experts from appearing on US television. The doctor has used Congressional testimony, webcasts and podcasts, and interviews with foreign outlets to set out the situation with the pandemic.
Last week, after high-profile reporters revealed the ban, the White House approved appearances on PBS NewsHour, a CNN Town Hall, and NBC’s Meet the Press. But the approvals were retracted after Fauci, in a a Facebook Live event on Tuesday, implicitly pushed bacekd Trump’s assertions of success as “a false narrative”: “Don’t get yourself into false complacency.”
Daily briefings by the White House Task Force on Coronavirus were suspended in late May, after Trump recommended the ingestion of disinfectant as a cure. Only one briefing, led by Vice President Mike Pence, has been conducted since then.
For the second day in a row, Donald Trump spent the day on Twitter and his golf course in Virginia.
Brief video clip from the president’s golf outing. The course is the only place he gets to drive himself. Secret Service positioned nearby. The caddie holding on in back. pic.twitter.com/CbX31MPYD5
— Kelly O'Donnell (@KellyO) July 13, 2020
The Florida Hot Spot
While some of Florida’s surge is due to increased testing, much of it is because of the rapid spread of Coronavirus since Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Trump ally, followed Trump’s command and lifted restrictions in early May.
Last month, less than 5% of Floridians tested positive. In the past week, the daily average is more than 19%.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez said hospitals will soon reach capacity, and more beds will be added, including in intensive care.
Following another Trump demand, DeSantis insisted that schools must fully reopen next month: “We know there are huge, huge costs for not providing the availability of in-person schooling.”
Ignoring the threat to staff and the role of children as vectors spreading the virus, he maintained, “The risk of Corona, fortunately, for students is incredibly low.”
Last week the Trump Administration quashed Centers for Disease Control guidelines for the reopening of schools, and Trump threatened to cut Federal funding to any State or institution who did not return to full in-class instruction.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said on Sunday, “I am urging all schools to open and to be providing their students a full-time education.”
The Republican National Convention is due to be held in Jacksonville in August. The Trump camp moved it from Charlotte, North Carolina when Gov. Roy Cooper said social distancing would have to be observed.
On Saturday, the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom reopened at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Guests said that people wore masks and were social distancing, as videos showed near-empty parks.
In Texas, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said a stay-at-home order is needed:
We have to acknowledge the fact that we opened too quickly, too soon. We have to acknowledge the fact that the numbers are continuing to rise. We have to recognize the fact that not everybody is going to put on this mask. Let’s just be real, even with the requirement. Knowing all of that and knowing what works, you’ve got to recalibrate.
Gov. Greg Abbott supported Trump’s demand for “reopening” by lifting restrictions in early May, but more than two weeks ago, he reversed course. Further reopening was suspended, and an order issued for masks in public.
Lina Hidalgo, the leader of Houston’s Harris County, tweeted Sunday:
Not only do we need a stay home order now, but we need to stick with it this time until the hospitalization curve comes down, not just flattens. Many communities that persevered in that way are reopening for the long haul. Let’s learn from that & not make the same mistake twice. https://t.co/Y5SITeamFP
— Lina Hidalgo (@LinaHidalgoTX) July 12, 2020