President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 task force might look a little different after the election if there’s any substance in what the president said after a Florida rally crowd burst into a boisterous “Fire Fauci!” on Sunday night.
According to CBS News, Trump acknowledged the crowd’s apparent frustration with the veteran infectious disease doctor, telling his supporters, “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait till a little bit after the election.”
The growing rift
To say that tensions between Fauci and the president have been running high over past weeks would be an understatement, especially given that the two haven’t even reportedly spoken since before Trump’s personal battle with a nasty — but quick — bout of COVID-19 last month.
The divide between the two grew even wider in the wake of recent dire predictions Fauci made to The Washington Post, in which he warned of a coming surge of the virus as more people spend time indoors due to the onset of winter weather.
“We’re in for a whole lot of hurt. It’s not a good situation,” Fauci told the Post. “All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly.”
As The New York Post reported on Sunday, Fauci also took an unexpected shot at presidential pandemic adviser Dr. Scott Atlas by accusing him of not taking the predicted COVID-19 surge as seriously as he would prefer him to.
“He’s a smart guy who’s talking about things that I believe he doesn’t have any real insight or knowledge or experience in. He keeps talking about things that when you dissect it out and parse it out, it doesn’t make any sense,” Fauci said.
White House responds
Fauci’s recent string of criticisms leveled at Trump and his inner-circle over their handling of the pandemic drew immediate return fire from the White House, with spokesman Judd Deere slamming the 79-year-old doctor’s doom-and-gloom take on the matter.
“Dr. Fauci has a duty to express concerns or push for a change in strategy, but he’s not done that, instead choosing to criticize the president in the media and make his political leanings known by praising the president’s opponent,” Deere said in a statement.
The last part of Deere’s comment was in reference to the high praise Fauci gave former vice president Joe Biden and his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, on how “seriously” they’ve taken the pandemic from a “public health perspective.”
Deere also insisted that Fauci’s comments were “unacceptable,” charging the doctor with knowing that “the risks today are dramatically lower than they were only a few months ago with mortality rates falling over 80 percent.”
Only time will tell, but Fauci’s future on the coronavirus task force very much seems to hinge on who pulls out a victory on November 3. It has also been made crystal clear that Fauci’s services are no longer desired by Trump’s supporters, who are obviously not interested in a winter of extended lockdowns.