Washington (AFP) – President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he disagrees with the assessment of the country’s top immunologist, Anthony Fauci, on the dire situation the United States faces as cases of the novel coronavirus continue to spread.
“The current state is really not good,” the highly respected Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a Facebook and Twitter livestream on Monday.
“We are still knee deep in the first wave” of COVID-19 infections,” he said.
Trump, speaking Tuesday in a TV interview, disagreed with Fauci, a key player on the White House’s own Coronavirus Task Force.
“I think we are in a good place,” the president said in an interview on the “Full Court Press” news show hosted by a former Fox News anchor, adding: “I disagree with him.”
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“Dr. Fauci said don’t wear masks, now he says wear them,” he continued, adding that the immunologist has “said numerous things” that according to Trump were bad advice.
“So we’ve done a good job. I think we are going to be in two, three, four weeks, by the time we next speak, I think we are going to be in very good shape,” Trump added.
The United States has fared poorly in its handling of the pandemic, with more than 130,000 people losing their lives, the highest death toll in the world by far. Currently there is a surge of cases in the south and the west after regional officials began to relax restrictions.
Trump has downplayed the ever-rising number of daily cases, blaming them instead on increased testing.
The US is currently testing some 600,000 people a day, according to the COVID Tracking Project, but even this is deemed insufficient by health experts because of the very high rate of positive cases being found.
On Tuesday federal officials said they would offer free COVID-19 testing to people without symptoms to stem a surge of cases in three southern hotspots.