Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN around 4 p.m. Tuesday that he has not been invited to President Trump’s 5 p.m. coronavirus press briefing, and that he most recently spoke to the president last week.
Why it matters: The press briefing will be Trump’s first since he ended them in April at the request of aides who believed they were hurting his poll numbers. Even as coronavirus cases surge across the U.S., the briefing will not feature Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-diseases expert.
What he’s saying: “I was not invited up to this point,” Fauci told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “I’m assuming that I’m not going to be there because it’s going to be in just a short while and I’m still here at the NIH. So I’m assuming I’m not going to be there. “
- If he had been invited to the briefing, Fauci said he would tell Americans that “there are really some fundamental things — principals — that if we implemented them I believe we could turn this around in those Southern states, which are getting hit really hard right now.”
- “Things like universal wearing of masks. Close the bars. Stay physically distant. Outdoors better than indoors. Particularly, if you’re going to have restaurants, sparsely seat people separated from each other. Wash your hands.”
- “They’re really fundamental things. It’s not rocket science. If we all did it uniformly, Jake, I believe we could turn things around.”
The big picture: Fauci told The Atlantic last week that efforts by certain White House officials to discredit him are “bizarre” and that it “ultimately hurts the president” to undermine a top health official in the middle of a pandemic. But the president himself called Fauci “a little bit of an alarmist” in an interview with Fox News on Sunday.
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- When asked by Tapper whether he agrees with Trump’s label, Fauci responded: “Well, I mean people have their opinion about my reaction to things. I consider myself more a realist than an alarmist.”
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