President Trump rebuffed Dr. Anthony Fauci on Saturday after the infectious disease expert linked the ongoing surge of new U.S. cases of the novel coronavirus to the country’s failure to more fully shutdown.
Mr. Trump took issue with Dr. Fauci’s assessment on Twitter, where the president reacted to a video showing the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases accounting for the cases.
“If you look at what happened in Europe, when they shut down or locked down or went to shelter in place — however you want to describe it — they really did it to the tune of about 95-plus percent of the country did that,” Dr. Fauci said in the video. “When you actually look at what we did, even though we shut down, even though it created a great deal of difficulty, we really functionally shut down only about 50% in the sense of the totality of the country.”
Mr. Trump rejected the medical expert’s reasoning and instead claimed the U.S. continues to see large numbers of new coronavirus cases because of the sheer number of tests being conducted, however.
“Wrong!” Mr. Trump tweeted. “We have more cases because we have tested far more than any other country, 60,000,000. If we tested less, there would be less cases.”
The first known cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, were discovered late last year in Wuhan, China. Outbreaks subsequently erupted in Europe and eventually the U.S. and elsewhere.
In Europe, Dr. Fauci correctly noted, officials in Italy, France and Spain imposed nationwide travel and business restrictions in March to try to slow the spread of the contagious respiratory disease.
And while most states in the U.S. soon after followed suit, the Trump administration resisted calls to copy European countries and refused to put in place any sort of federally-mandated stay-at-home order.
The U.S. has since become the world leader in positive COVID-19 cases. More than 4.5 million cases of the disease have been confirmed in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University, or more than five times the total number of reported cases in Italy, France and Spain combined.
Discussing the pandemic in early April, Dr. Fauci indicated at the time he favored the federal government issuing a nationwide stay-at-home order.
“If you look at what’s going on in this country, I just don’t understand why we’re not doing that,” Dr. Fauci said then. “We really should be.”
Worldwide, more than 17.6 million of the planet’s approximately 7.8 billion inhabitants have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins. More than 680,000 have died and over 10.3 million have recovered, according to the university.