Anthony Fauci in June. Photo: Al Drago/AFP via Getty Images

Over 3,000 public health officials signed an open letter to President Trump, criticizing the efforts of White House officials to discredit Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Why it matters: Signatories include two former directors of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two previous commissioners of the Food and Drug Administration, a former secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and a former U.S. surgeon general.

  • Former FDA associate commissioner Peter Lurie and Gregg Gonsalves, a professor at the Yale School of Public Health, drafted the letter.

What they're saying: “This week and last, the White House mounted a campaign to discredit one of our nation’s leading scientific experts, Dr. Anthony Fauci ... who has advised six Presidents on epidemics from HIV to SARS, from Ebola to H1N1 influenza,” the letter reads.

  • "Since the beginning of the pandemic, he has remained one of the world’s most trusted scientists on COVID-19, daily explaining in lay terms the complexity of an illness we still don’t fully understand."
  • "And he has done so by placing science front and center in the public discourse. Attempting to marginalize highly respected researchers such as Dr. Fauci is a dangerous distraction at a time when we most need voices like his."
  • "Now is not the time to turn our backs on science."

The big picture: Trump called Fauci "a little bit of an alarmist" in an interview with Fox News on Tuesday.

  • Fauci told The Atlantic last week that efforts to discredit him are "bizarre" and that it "ultimately hurts the president" to undermine a top health official in the middle of a pandemic.
  • He noted that he was not invited to Trump's Tuesday coronavirus briefing, and that he most recently spoke to the president last week.

Go deeper... Fauci on who to trust amid coronavirus: "Stick with respected medical authorities"

Go deeper

Sep 20, 2020 - Health

Trump's health secretary asserts control over all new rules

HHS Secretary Alex Azar and President Donald Trump. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar wrote a memo this week giving him authority over all new rules and banning any of the health agencies, including the FDA, from signing any new rules "regarding the nation’s foods, medicines, medical devices and other products," the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The story further underscores reporting that health and scientific agencies are undergoing a deep politicization as the Trump administration races to develop a coronavirus vaccine, as Axios' Caitlin Owens has reported. Peter Lurie, a former associate commissioner of the FDA, told the Times that the Azar memo amounted to a "power grab."

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
51 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Wall Street fears stimulus is doomed

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The fight over a new Supreme Court justice will take Washington's partisan bickering to a new level and undermine any chance for needed coronavirus relief measures before November's election, Wall Street analysts say.

What we're hearing: "With the passing of Justice Ginsburg, the level of rhetorical heat has increased, if that seemed even possible," Greg Staples, head of fixed income for the Americas at DWS Group, tells Axios in an email.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 a.m. ET: 31,346,086 — Total deaths: 965,294— Total recoveries: 21,518,790Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 6,858,130 — Total deaths: 199,890 — Total recoveries: 2,615,949 — Total tests: 95,841,281Map.
  3. Health: CDC says it mistakenly published guidance about COVID-19 spreading through air.
  4. Media: Conservative blogger who spread COVID-19 misinformation worked for Fauci's agency.
  5. Politics: House Democrats file legislation to fund government through Dec. 11.
  6. World: U.K. upgrades COVID alert level as Europe sees worrying rise in infections — "The Wake-Up Call" warns the West about the consequences of mishandling a pandemic.

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