Trump attacks Fauci amid campaign ad feud – POLITICO

While it is true that administration officials did not endorse mask-wearing in the initial stage of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak, the CDC began recommending the use of cloth masks when outside the home by early April.

Fauci acknowledged in June that the administration was slow to encourage the mitigation measure because of concerns among the public health community regarding a shortage of personal protective equipment in the U.S.

Trump’s mention of the World Health Organization appears to refer to a statement made last week by a Covid-19 special envoy for the United Nations agency, who urged countries against using lockdowns as the “primary means of control of this virus.”

The U.S., however, implemented only a scattershot collection of lockdown orders earlier this year — with Trump declining to issue a nationwide mandate and leaving it to local and state leaders to announce their own restrictions.

Fauci himself told CNN in an interview Monday that officials “are not talking about shutting down” when advocating public health measures, saying: “Let’s get that off the table.”

Trump did announce a ban on travel from China in January. But his travel restrictions came after the coronavirus had already begun rampaging across China, and they did not accompany broader federal efforts to prepare the U.S. for the coming pandemic.

Additionally, Trump’s travel ban included exemptions that reportedly allowed nearly 40,000 people to enter the U.S. on direct flights from China.

As for Trump’s assertion that he saved 2 million Americans, British researchers reported in March that the coronavirus could result in the deaths of as many of 2.2 million people in the U.S.

But that model predicted the death toll would only reach such heights if the U.S. took no action whatsoever to halt the disease’s spread, an unrealistic scenario.

Trump has repeatedly touted the earlier, more dire forecast of coronavirus deaths to argue his administration’s response has been a success.

Trump’s latest broadside against Fauci represents yet another effort by the White House to cast doubt on the credibility of one of the administration’s most trusted public health officials.

But the tweet from the president also seemingly undermines the 30-second ad his campaign released Saturday, which prominently features Fauci assessing Trump’s handling of the coronavirus.

“I can’t imagine that … anybody could be doing more,” Fauci says in the ad — a quote he claimed Sunday was included “without my permission” and “taken out of context” from a broader statement about the federal pandemic response.

The Trump campaign has defended its decision to feature Fauci in the ad, as has the president, who tweeted Sunday: “They are indeed Dr. Fauci’s own words.”

Fauci has continued to express his displeasure with the ad this week, emphasizing Monday that he has never endorsed a political candidate during his more than three decades as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“To take a completely out of context statement and put it in which is obviously a political campaign ad, I thought was really very disappointing,” he told CNN.