National Institutes of Health infectious disease chief Dr. Anthony Fauci openly contradicted President Donald Trump’s administration messaging on the coronavirus outbreak on Thursday, saying that the country was “not going in the right direction” after Trump said the outbreak was “under control.”
“[China and Europe are] getting under control, and we are likewise getting under control,” Trump said in a press briefing on Thursday.
New cases of the virus are spiking in many southern states, with some hitting records for daily new cases. However, deaths are rising more slowly, if at all, in most of the affected states as more younger people are being infected and have milder cases.
Fauci had a different message from Trump during an interview with the American Medical Association, however.
Fauci: Could be “serious difficulty” ahead
“We need to realize that if we do not adhere to the guidelines as we’re trying to open, and I don’t mean officially, I mean the citizenry, the people that are out there, we’re going to be in some serious difficulty,” Fauci said in the interview.
Fauci also said recently that U.S. cases could climb from the current 50,000 per day to 100,000 if steps are not taken to slow infections. However, he also expressed optimism about the progress towards an effective coronavirus vaccine, noting that several companies are already starting production of vaccines, though they are not proven.
Fauci’s view is in sharp contrast with Trump, who has argued that any spikes or flare-ups will be brief. “Some areas that were very hard-hit are now doing very well. Some were doing very well, and we thought [the virus] may be gone, or they flare up, we’re putting out the fires,” Trump said.
Trump’s recent focus has been on making economic progress, as the U.S. added 4.8 million jobs to the economy in June largely as a consequence of reopening in many states.
Trump preparing new messaging
The conflict between Fauci and Trump may come to a head once the Trump administration releases the new messaging it is reportedly planning for the coming days.
NBC News reported that Trump plans to tout new therapeutic treatments for the coronavirus that have cut deaths significantly, and to say that “the virus is with us, but we need to live with it.”
While I’m doubtful that such a message will be well-received by people who think staying locked down indefinitely is a good idea, the message can hardly be denied by thinking Americans who realize that, long-term, the virus seems to be something we, in fact, need to live with.
It is more than time for a reset from panic-filled messaging that makes it seem like getting the coronavirus is a death sentence. Deaths continue to decline nation-wide and the CDC has estimated that more than 99.7% of people survive the virus when they do get it. Meanwhile, the mental health risks that come with keeping people locked down and out of work for an extended time should not be ignored.