President Donald Trump accused the nation’s top infectious disease official, Anthony Fauci, of wanting to “play all sides of the equation” with congressional testimony Tuesday in which he warned reopening the country too quickly could lead to coronavirus case flareups.
“I was surprised by his answer, actually,” Trump said. “Because you know, it’s just - to me it’s not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to schools.”
Fauci on Monday said that there would not likely be a vaccine or broadly effective treatment for coronavirus before the fall term began for students, and said the U.S. needs “to be careful we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects” of the virus.
But Trump said virus data paints a “pretty amazing” picture suggesting young Americans are largely untouched by the disease. He said his only hesitation on reopening schools was protecting teachers and professors who might be vulnerable to the disease, which has killed over 80,000 Americans.
“I think they ought to take it easy for another few weeks -- five weeks, four weeks, who knows, whatever it may be,” Trump said.
The president’s public rebuke of Fauci’s testimony was a remarkable split with the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who has come under criticism from some Republicans who charge he’s been too cautious in his advice on lifting social distancing precautions.
Trump echoed his disapproval in a interview taped Wednesday with Fox Business Network.“I think that we have to open our schools, young people are very little affected by this, we have to get the schools open, we have to get our country open,” Trump said. "We have to open our country. Now, we want to do it safely but we also want to do it as quickly as possible. We can't keep going on like this. You're having bedlam already in the streets."
In the same interview he called Fauci a "very good person," but one with whom he's disagreed before, as with the president's decision to restrict travel with China.
"I totally disagree with him on schools," Trump said in the excerpt of the Fox Business interview, the entirety of which is due to air Thursday morning.
Newsmax's Jeffrey Rubin contributed to this report.
© Copyright 2023 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.