On Monday, Trump retweeted a message from Chuck Woolery, a longtime game show host and conservative commentator, who accused the disease control and prevention centers of “lying” to the American public about the virus.
Trump has also accused Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease expert, for making “mistakes”, classifying the CDC guidelines for school opening as “impractical”, and repeatedly undercutting health agency recommendations, by questioning the effectiveness of masks and social distancing.
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“If the president calls the guidelines wrong and confirms the view that these public health experts are lying, it is incredibly difficult for the public to know what to do,” he said. “It undermines our government’s long-term ability to achieve one of its basic goals, which is to protect public security.”
While Trump downplayed the virus and rejected warnings from public health experts for months, his latest venture came amid increasing cases and concerns about safe school reopening in the coming weeks. Trump focused primarily on trying to revive the pandemic-stricken economy and saw its revival as the key to his re-election opportunities this fall.
Trump’s aides have reinforced his statements, which promote a return to normality and undermine the government’s health literacy in the middle of a pandemic. White House officials spread negative discussions about Fauci to reporters over the weekend after the Washington Post reported that Fauci had been taken out of circulation by Trump in recent weeks.
White House spokesman Kayleigh McEnany used a press conference on Monday to defend this criticism of Fauci and intensify the president’s attacks on government health experts. She accused “some villains” of misleading the public on the CDC and defended Trump’s retweet from Woolery by saying that he called on scientists to get involved in politics.
“Overall, the tweet should indicate that if we use science, we have to use science in a way that is not political,” she said.
Woolery was less nuanced in his tweet, writing that “the most outrageous lies are about Covid 19”.
“Everyone is lying,” he continued in a post that Trump shared with his 83 million followers. “The CDC, the media, the Democrats, our doctors, not all, but most of whom we should trust. I think it’s all about choice and that the economy doesn’t come back, and it’s about choice. I’m sick.”
Trump also retweeted a post from Woolery, which hosted “Love Connection” in the 1980s and pointed to “worldwide and overwhelming” scientific evidence that schools should reopen in the fall. Trump and his aides have tried to make the school restart an easy choice to open or not to open. Public health experts have said that restarting schools should be a top priority, but the problem is that moving without proper security measures could worsen the pandemic.
Last week, the president publicly blew up the CDC guidelines for school reopening and tweeted it as “very hard and expensive” and “impractical”.
Trump’s tweet – it ended with “I’ll meet you !!!” – Triggered confused and contradictory responses from government officials for several days, who were trying to explain the government’s position on school openings and see if anything had changed.
Vice President Pence said the CDC will issue additional guidelines for schools, although CDC director Robert Redfield and other officials said they would stick to the original recommendations, but would release additional information. During an interview with CNN on Sunday, Education Minister Betsy DeVos sought to answer basic questions as to whether the federal government wanted schools to follow the guidelines.
While McEnany told reporters Monday that Trump has confidence in the CDC, she spent more time criticizing health professionals than spreading her message to the public.
She has repeatedly referred to the rise in positive coronavirus infections as “glow,” although states across the country are setting records for new cases and the number of deaths is beginning to increase.
Over 3.3 million Americans have been infected and more than 132,000 have died, the highest known sums in the world. The government has accused China of failing to adequately report the severity of the pandemic within its borders.
“If you compare us to other countries, we have the most tests in the world. If you compare us to other countries in terms of case mortality and other industrialized nations, we are very low and beat most, if not all, of the countries in Europe, ”said McEnany. “So we do a lot on the world stage and a lot right.”
World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus criticized political leaders for downplaying the virus and not doing enough to enforce social detachment and wearing masks.
“Mixed messages from managers undermine the most important part of every answer: trust,” he said without naming specific managers. “If the basics are not followed, there is only one way this pandemic will go. It will get worse and worse, but it doesn’t have to be that way. “
The Trump administration officially informed the United Nations last week of its exit from the WHO, which accused Trump of not doing anything to stop the virus from spreading. It is one of several institutions that Trump undercut or dropped during the pandemic as he increasingly relied on his own instincts.
But even some Republicans are calling for a more targeted federal response.
Mick Mulvaney, the former White House chief of staff, wrote in a comment released Monday that the United States still has a “test problem” and that policymakers need to recognize that the “current economic crisis is being driven by public health” .
“I know that talking about it is not popular in some republican circles, but we still have a testing problem in that country,” said Mulvaney, who left the White House in March to become the US Special Representative for Northern Ireland Piece published by CNBC. “My son was recently tested. We had to wait 5 to 7 days for the results. My daughter wanted to be tested before visiting her grandparents, but was advised that she had not qualified. That is simply inexcusable in the pandemic at this point. “
Mulvaney’s assessment contradicts that of Trump, who has repeatedly touted the country’s testing capacity and claimed that the number of US coronavirus cases is increasing due to the number of tests being carried out.
On Monday, Trump again objected to Fauci and other health officials, claiming that coronavirus testing was a “double-edged sword” and that the United States had “created” cases through so many tests.
“We test far more than anyone else. And when you test, you create cases, ”he said. “So we created cases.”
Sommers said that a politicized pandemic rhetoric is “really harmful” to efforts to have a coherent response to public health.
“So much of our society is currently polarized,” he said. “And if you take science and do the same with it, it basically means that everyone feels entitled to their own facts. On the public health and medical side, it’s just a tragedy. “
John Wagner contributed to this report.