In a rare public break with his top coronavirus scientist, President Donald Trump disagreed this week with Dr. Anthony Fauci’s opinion on ending pandemic-prompted lockdowns.
The president was reacting to Fauci’s testimony before Congress on Tuesday, in which the face of the White House coronavirus task force recommended that society remain closed to avoid “suffering and death” — a course of action that Trump said was not “acceptable,” CNBC reported.
“It’s not an acceptable answer”
Speculation that Fauci is walking on thin ice with Trump has followed him for weeks, and while both men insist that they’re on good terms, their views appear to have diverged somewhat.
While Trump is eager to “transition to greatness” and revitalize a hemorrhaging U.S. economy, Dr. Fauci reiterated to the Senate on Tuesday that it’s too dangerous to end lockdowns anytime soon. The scientist made the shocking assessment that a vaccine will not be developed in time to safely open schools in the fall, as USA Today reported.
Reacting to Fauci’s comments, Trump said that he was taken aback by some of his remarks.
“I was surprised by his answer, actually,” Trump said Wednesday, according to CNBC. “To me, it’s not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to schools.”
Trump noted that the virus is less likely to impact children, although there have been rare cases of an illness in children that could be coronavirus-related, Fox Business noted.
“We can’t keep going on like this”
The rift comes as some states have started to cautiously open up, over the objections of Fauci and others who warn of a “second wave” of the virus. Despite these warnings, many Americans have lost patience with lockdowns that have cost millions of jobs and added trillions to the national debt in stimulus spending.
Meanwhile, the president’s critics have held up Fauci as the trusted “voice of reason” throughout the coronavirus crisis, seeking to draw a contrast with Trump, who they accuse of recklessly ignoring scientific expertise.
Indeed, Dr. Fauci remains popular, but backlash against his role in the coronavirus response has grown.
Trump also addressed Fauci’s comments on Fox Business, saying that Fauci is a “good person” but that he “totally” disagrees with his opinion about schools.
“Now we want to do it safely, but we also want to do it as quickly as possible, we can’t keep going on like this,” Trump told host Maria Bartiromo. “You’re having bedlam already in the streets, you can’t do this. We have to get it open. I totally disagree with him on schools.”