The White House this weekend launched a concerted attack on the nation's top infectious disease expert, openly trying to discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci over past statements on the Coronavirus, as cases of the virus continued to surge nationally in the U.S., with deaths also showing a concerning spike in the past week.
In statements issued to a series of major news organizations, White House officials sought to undermine Dr. Fauci by noting statements from early in the virus outbreak, which were cast by anonymous officials as inaccurate.
In a pair of interviews last week, President Trump signaled his differences with Fauci - by noting Fauci’s early opposition to a travel ban on China, and a recent observation that the U.S. is not in a good place when it comes to the Coronavirus.
“I think we are in a good place. I disagree with him,” the President said in an interview with Greta Van Susteren.
“Dr. Fauci is a nice man, but he’s made a lot of mistakes,” the President told Sean Hannity on Fox News.
No White House officials put their name to materials sent out to reporters, which some said resembled an ‘oppo dump’ on a political rival.
“Reporters do not have to grant anonymity for this obvious hatchet job on Dr. Fauci,” said Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI).
“Trust the experts. I stand with Dr.Fauci,” said Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL).
The effort to undermine Dr. Fauci came as the state of Florida set a one day mark for new Coronavirus cases, with 15,300 new infections reported on Sunday.
For several weeks, Florida, Texas, California, and Arizona have led a new surge in Coronavirus cases - but in the last week, the surge has now included more deaths as well.
For example, since July 4, the 7-day average of daily deaths reported by those four states have all increased:
+ Arizona went from an average of 32 deaths per day to 49 per day in the last week.
+ California increased from 61 per day to an average of 90 deaths per day.
+ Florida almost doubled its daily deaths average, going from 36 per day to 71.
+ Texas jumped from an average of 35 deaths per day to 72.
Overall, the 7-day average of daily deaths has increased by more than 200 deaths per day - in just the past five days.
In the past four days, the combination of Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas have accounted for just over half of all reported Coronavirus deaths in the U.S. Those four states have also seen the largest increase in cases over the past few weeks.