Oct 23, 2020 - Health

Fauci: Trump hasn't been to a COVID task force meeting in months

Photo of Dr. Anthony Fauci rubbing his masked face as he watches President Trump give a speech
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump has not attended a White House coronavirus task force meeting in “several months,” NIAID director Anthony Fauci told MSNBC on Friday.

Why it matters: At the beginning of the pandemic, the task force, led by Vice President Mike Pence, met every day, but in the "last several weeks," members have held virtual meetings once a week, Fauci said, even as the number of new cases continues to surge in the country.

  • The U.S. recorded more than 71,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, its highest daily total since July, per NPR.

What he's saying: Fauci told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd that in Trump's absence, Pence conveys information from meetings to the White House.

  • “I definitely don’t have his ear as much as Scott Atlas right now. That has been a changing situation," Fauci said.
  • Atlas — who is a radiologist, not an epidemiologist — has become one of the president's favorite coronavirus advisers who has frequently clashed with other members of the task force over his controversial views and false claims.
  • Fauci added that the high number of new infections means the U.S. is in a "precarious place to be for a number of reasons."
  • He warned that several states "are having upticks in case positivities, which are in fact leading to increases in hospitalizations, which will ultimately lead to an increase in deaths."

The White House told Axios that “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."

Worth noting: Trump has attacked the nation's top infectious disease expert throughout the pandemic, including calling him a “disaster” in his latest tirade on Monday.

Go deeper: Republican senators defend Fauci as Trump escalates attacks

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