Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease official, is clashing with the White House again – this time raising concerns that Donald Trump’s supporters could catch and spread the coronavirus during almost-daily campaign rallies he is planning before Election Day.
“Now is even more so a worse time to do that. When you look at what’s going on in the United States, it’s really very troublesome,” Mr Fauci told CNN on Monday, adding for Covid-19 cases in several regions of the country: “It’s going in the wrong direction right now. If there’s anything we should be doing, it’s doubling down on the public health measures that we’ve been talking about for so long.”
That list includes avoiding crowds and wearing masks. Neither are required at Trump rallies. (The Trump campaign does hand out masks and hand sanitiser.)
What’s more, Mr Fauci said summer’s departure means the country is ripe for new infections.
“We’re entering into the … cold months of the winter,” he said. “And that’s just a recipe for a real problem.”
Mr Fauci and other experts have warned the United States, where at least 215,000 people have died from the virus and at least 7.8m have been infected, could be dealing with coronavirus well into 2021 or for the entire year.
But Mr Trump, despite himself being infected, continues to insist, despite the rising number of cases, that the country is “rounding the corner” in combating the disease. The president says a vaccine could be ready before or just after the 3 November election, with his aides saying it could be distributed to older people early next year.
Eric Trump, one of the president’s sons, said on Sunday his father took a “vaccine” while hospitalised this month at Walter Reed military hospital. What his dad demanded was an experimental antibody treatment and a powerful steroid, a costly cocktail not available to or affordable for most Americans.
Mr Trump left the White House on Monday afternoon bound for a campaign rally in Florida, a key swing state with 29 Electoral College votes that he won in 2016 and needs to hold this time to secure a second term.
He has other rallies planned this week in Pennsylvania, Iowa and North Carolina. A senior campaign adviser said on Monday the president wants his staff to add more so he can be on the campaign trail perhaps every day until the election – including with multiple rallies a day.
Asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper how bad the Covid-19 situation might get this winter, Mr Fauci said “it’s on a trajectory to get worse and worse.” He said he wants the upward trend in cases to “jolt” the American people in preventing a disastrous winter.
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