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Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) defended Anthony Fauci at a press conference Tuesday in the wake of attempts by anonymous Trump administration officials to undermine the nation's top infectious diseases expert.

What he's saying: "We don't have a Dr. Fauci problem. We need to be focusing on doing things that get us to where we need to go. So I have all the respect in the world for Dr. Fauci."

  • "I think any effort to undermine him is not going to be productive, quite frankly," Graham added.

Why it matters: Fauci, one of the most trusted public health experts in the country, has been targeted by Trump's allies due to his frank assessments about the failures of the U.S. response to the coronavirus — which often contradict President Trump's and other top officials' more sunny outlooks.

  • Over the weekend, a number of media outlets received a statement from an unnamed White House official that listed the times Fauci was "wrong on things" in the pandemic's early days.
  • But as the Washington Post's Aaron Blake points out, many of the quotes the official cited omitted Fauci's caveats and ignored the fact that Trump himself had parroted some of the same talking points.
  • On Monday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany denied that the White House released "opposition research" on Fauci and claimed that he and Trump "have always had a very good working relationship." Fauci has said he has not been asked to brief the president in at least two months.

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise" — Two years of COVID-19 — Prior coronavirus infections may not protect well against Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Data demonstrates most-vaccinated counties less vulnerable to worst of COVID — Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate.
  4. World: Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles downWHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Oct 21, 2020 - Health

CDC changes "close contact" guidance for COVID-19

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Noam Galai, Jamie McCarthy, Josep LAGO / AFP, Alfredo ESTRELLA / AFP, and Narayan Maharjan/NurPhoto, all via Getty Images

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention expanded its definition of who is considered a “close contact” of an individual infected with the coronavirus in a report released Wednesday.

Why it matters: The update is likely to pose challenges for schools, workplaces and other group settings as the U.S. prepares for a third coronavirus wave. It also reinforces the importance of masks in the face of President Trump’s repeated attempts to belittle their efficacy.

Oct 21, 2020 - World

Spain becomes first nation in Western Europe to exceed 1 million COVID-19 cases

Photo: Miquel Benitez/Getty Images

Spain exceeded 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, becoming the first country in Western Europe to hit the milestone, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The state of play: Spain, which reported 16,973 cases over the previous 24 hours, was one of the most affected countries when the pandemic started, and cases have been on the rise since September, according to NPR.