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Trump Hasn’t Shown Up To Covid Task Force In Months, Fauci Says

Topline

President Donald Trump has not attended a White House coronavirus task force meeting for “several months,” task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday, and the nation’s top infectious disease official said he hasn’t briefed the president recently.

Key Facts

The coronavirus task force meets roughly once a week, Fauci told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, though some members converse with each other more frequently, a steep decrease from the near-daily meetings held by the group of scientists and policymakers during the virus’ initial surge in the spring.

Vice President Mike Pence still leads these weekly meetings and relays information to Trump, but the president has not attended a session in months, Fauci noted.

Fauci said he has not directly briefed Trump recently, adding that Dr. Scott Atlas — a radiologist and health policy wonk Trump brought in to the task force in August who has expressed questionable views about Covid-19 — probably has the president’s ear more often than Fauci does.

White House spokesperson Sarah Matthews told Forbes: “The President is routinely briefed about the coronavirus each and every day. The relevant information is brought to him on the big decisions, and then he moves forward in the way that’s best for our country.”

Crucial Quote

“We certainly interact with the vice president at the task force meetings, and the Vice President makes our feelings and what we talk about there known,” Fauci said. “But direct involvement with the president in the discussions? I have not done that in awhile.”

Key Background

In the pandemic’s early days, the White House coronavirus task force was a fixture of Trump’s response to Covid-19. Since then, Trump has grown impatient with Fauci and other task force members, complaining that federal scientists are too cautious about reversing coronavirus restrictions. Trump’s frustration with Fauci reached a boiling point earlier this week, when the president called the federal government’s foremost infectious disease expert an “idiot” and said he’d like to fire him. Meanwhile, Trump has begun paying more attention to Atlas, a conservative think tank fellow who shares Trump’s skepticism of mass testing, his discredited belief that the coronavirus will suddenly disappear, and his zealous desire to reopen the economy. Atlas has reportedly feuded with some task force members about testing and other basic elements of the federal Covid-19 response.

Tangent

The coronavirus is resurging in the United States, with daily case counts nearing record levels. States like Wisconsin and South Dakota are dealing with strained hospitals and soaring infection numbers, and Massachusetts and New Jersey are looking at uticks after they successfully subdued the virus in the spring. Some experts are warning the virus is on pace to surge yet again toward the end of the year.

Further Reading

Trump’s den of dissent: Inside the White House task force as coronavirus surges (Washington Post)

Who Is Dr. Scott Atlas? Trump’s New Covid Health Adviser Seen As Counter To Fauci And Birx (Forbes)

Trump Calls Dr. Fauci ‘Disaster,’ Says He Would Fire Him It Weren’t For Negative Press (Forbes)

Source: Forbes – Business

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