Trump Minimizes Spike in Virus Cases, Calls Fauci ‘Alarmist’
President Donald Trump played down rising coronavirus cases in the U.S., saying many people experience nothing more than “sniffles,” that positive tests are only up because of wider testing, and that the U.S. response is the “envy of the world.”
Trump also said that Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-disease expert, is a “little bit of an alarmist” but that the two men have a “great relationship.”
Trump made the comments in a lengthy interview on “Fox News Sunday” that was recorded Friday.
Asked about rising Covid-19 diagnoses, Trump offered that “many of those cases are young people who would heal in a day, they have the sniffles and we put it down as a test.”
“Show me the death chart,” Trump said when asked about daily cases in the U.S. now exceeding 75,000. “The death chart is much more important.”
The daily U.S. death toll from Covid-19 is down sharply from the spring but has been creeping up again this month. Total deaths now exceed 140,000.
“We have embers and we do have flames. Florida became more flame like, but it’s -- it’s going to be under control,” Trump said.
Pressed about past statements that the coronavirus would at some point disappear, Trump said “I’ll be right eventually. I will be right eventually,” adding, “It’s going to disappear, and I’ll be right.”
In the past week members of Trump’s administration have criticized Fauci, listing what they said were errors made by the longtime head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro penned a scathing op-ed about Fauci for USA Today.
“Dr. Fauci’s made some mistakes,” Trump said. “But I have a very good -- I spoke to him yesterday at length. I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci.”
Trump added: “He’s a little bit of an alarmist. That’s OK. A little bit of an alarmist.”
Fauci was once a ubiquitous figure in daily White House coronavirus task force briefings but hasn’t spoken publicly at the White House since late April. Fauci has been more candid in warning of the virus’s risks, and the dangers of a hasty reopening, than Trump and other administration officials.
As coronavirus cases have spiked in the U.S. in recent weeks, public opinion has increasingly turned against Trump, and Democrat Joe Biden has opened a growing lead in polls ahead.
Trump also said he’d heard the U.S. has the “best mortality rate” related to the virus. He provided White House data that undercut his argument, showing the U.S. rate isn’t the lowest. His data also didn’t include some countries with lower mortality rates.
“We are the envy of the world,” Trump said about testing.
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.