Top epidemiologist Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, revealed in a radio interview Tuesday that he has not spoken to President Donald Trump in two weeks ― despite rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in multiple states.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was during the earlier months of the ongoing crisis a regular figure alongside Trump in the White House’s daily televised coronavirus briefings.
But he told NPR’s “1A” program that the last time he had talked with Trump was “two weeks ago” about “our vaccine development effort.”
Before that, Fauci said in early June that he had also gone two weeks without talking to the president.
Check out Fauci’s interview with NPR here:
Commentators on Twitter said it was another example of the White House’s attempts to wind down the group and focus on rebooting the country’s economy, which Vice President Mike Pence said last month was the plan.
The task force held its last televised press briefing more than a month ago, just days after Trump drew widespread backlash and ridicule for suggesting that injecting disinfectant could be a possible treatment for the virus that’s now killed more than 119,000 people nationwide.
In earlier briefings, Trump had used his time at the lectern to attack journalists and spread unfounded conspiracy theories, often sidelining and distracting from the messaging of public health experts, including Fauci.
Earlier this month, Fauci revealed that the number of meetings he was holding with Trump had “dramatically decreased.” The group’s once-daily sessions had also been scaled back to just once or twice a week, CNN reported.
“We used to have task force meetings every single day, including Saturday and Sunday, and about 75% of the time after the task force meeting we’d meet with the president,” Fauci told the news website Stat.
Public health experts on the task force have also seen a drastic reduction in the number of media interviews the White House has allowed them to give over the last few weeks, per CNN.
Elsewhere in the NPR interview, Fauci suggested that some states had eased lockdown restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus “certainly before they got to the benchmarks they needed to get.”
The recent uptick in confirmed cases was likely due to people “not really adhering to the structured type of guidelines that belong to the phase that they’re in,” he added.
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