Dr. Fauci has a message for America: a lot of people have died from coronavirus and you don’t have to be a deep state bureaucrat to believe it.
The world-famous pandemic effort backed the official pandemic death toll of nearly 200,000 after President Trump retweeted a bizarro conspiracy theory that fewer than 10,000 Americans have perished.
“There are 180,000-plus deaths — (those) are real deaths from COVID-19. Let (there) not be any confusion about that,” Fauci said in an ABC News interview.
Fauci was seeking to explain a Centers for Disease Control report that the vast majority of people who died from coronavirus also had underlying health woes like hypertension or diabetes.
“It’s not 9,000 deaths from COVID-19, it’s 180-plus thousand deaths,” Fauci said.
The respected doctor spoke out after Trump retweeted a fan of the QAnon conspiracy theory suggesting that the CDC report means that the official coronavirus death toll is bogus.
That conspiracy theory claim dovetails with Trump’s political aim to downplay the impact of the pandemic as voters prepare to render a verdict on his turbulent presidency.
Trump criticized Fauci Monday, reminding Americans that he did not appoint the pandemic expert, who has worked under presidents of both parties.
“I inherited him,” Trump said in a Monday interview with Fox News. “He was here. He was part of this huge piece of machine.”
Trump added that he often disagrees with Fauci, although he did not elaborate.
“Every once in a while, he’ll come up with one that I say, ‘Where did that come from?’,” Trump added.
The president has repeatedly sought to undercut Fauci and other experts when they have offered scientific or medical advice that contradicts his political whims at any given moment.
Last month, he also lashed out at Dr. Deborah Birx, another infectious disease expert who has generally been more supportive of Trump’s approach.
Public health officials worry that Trump’s efforts to diminish the standing of experts will cost lives by reducing compliance with common-sense efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus, like wearing masks and social distancing.