Despite the fact that confirmed cases of COVID-19 are spiking in states across the U.S., the head of President Donald Trump's coronavirus response team hasn't briefed him on the matter in roughly two months. In an interview with the Financial Times on Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that he'd last seen the president in person at the White House on June 2.
While he said that he's "sure" that his messages are passed along, it appears they're falling on Trump's deaf ears. For example, the president declared that 99 percent of Covid-19 cases were "harmless" on Saturday. "I'm trying to figure out where the president got that number," Fauci explained. "What I think happened is that someone told him that the general mortality is about 1 percent. And he interpreted, therefore, that 99 percent is not a problem when that's obviously not the case."
Along with all of the task force's work being relayed to Trump second-hand, Fauci also spoke in grave terms about how the pandemic has taken hold of the U.S. "I don't think it's an exaggeration to say we have a serious ongoing problem, right now, as we speak," he explained. He'd previously testified to Congress in late June that the number of new cases could rise up to 100,000 a day. "What worries me is the slope of the curve," he added. "It still looks like it's exponential."
During his recent Congressional testimony, Fauci echoed this sentiment, lamenting that "we've been hit badly," by the pandemic. Though he also offered a light at the end of the tunnel of sorts, saying that he hopes to see a working vaccine for the virus available by early 2021. Until then, he used his time to urge Americans to practice social distancing and urged their leaders to encourage safe behaviors. He's also done his best to reassure the American people, addressing Trump's claim that he had ordered his administration to "slow down the testing," since it looked unfavorable for new cases to continue rising. "We will be doing more testing," Fauci refuted.
As of Friday, Johns Hopkins University has reported almost 12.5 million cases of COVID-19 across the globe, with nearly one-quarter of them in the U.S. Nearly 134,000 Americans have died from the virus, out of nearly 600,000 worldwide.