White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany denied Monday that the White House released "opposition research" on Anthony Fauci’s handling of the coronavirus, despite the fact that multiple 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.

The big picture: McEnany painted the statement as "a direct answer to what was a direct question" for a Washington Post piece, but the administration forwarded that document to other outlets, including CNN, which described it as "[resembling] opposition research on a political opponent."

  • Some of Fauci's statements on the list include his early comments that asymptomatic individuals could not play a major role in spreading the virus.
  • Fauci's defenders told the Post they attribute the errors to the difficulty in forecasting how a novel virus would ultimately behave in humans, arguing that his assertions at the time leaned on what epidemiologists knew about past coronaviruses.

The big picture: Fauci and President Trump's relationship has deteriorated as the two have disagreed on topics like the reopening of schools, testing and the use of treatments like hydroxychloroquine.

  • Fauci said last week that he hasn't seen Trump at the White House since June 2.

What she's saying:

  • "There is no opposition research being dumped to reporters. We were asked a very specific question by the Washington Post. And that question was President Trump noted that Dr. Fauci had made some mistakes and we provided a direct answer to what was a direct question."
  • "To the notion that there's opposition research and that there's Fauci versus the president couldn't be further from the truth. Dr. Fauci and the president have always had a very good working relationship."

Go deeper: The right and left internet loves Anthony Fauci

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted COVID relief bill McConnell urges White House not to strike stimulus deal before election.
  2. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  3. Health: New York reports most COVID cases since MayStudies show drop in coronavirus death rate — The next wave is gaining steam.
  4. Education: Schools haven't become hotspots — San Francisco public schools likely won't reopen before the end of the year.
  5. World: Spain becomes first nation in Western Europe to exceed 1 million cases.
Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
15 hours ago - Health

Studies show drop in COVID death rate

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

There's been a sharp drop in mortality rates among hospitalized coronavirus patients, including older patients and those with pre-existing health conditions, per two new peer-reviewed studies.

By the numbers: One study that looked at a single health system found that hospitalized patients had a 25.6% chance of dying at the start of the pandemic, but now have only a 7.6% chance, NPR reports.

Oct 20, 2020 - Health

California issues more rigid COVID-19 guidelines for theme park re-openings

Photo: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California health officials on Tuesday told theme parks like Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood that they can reopen once daily coronavirus cases in their respective counties drop below one per 100,000 people.

Why it matters: Disney and Universal, both of which hoped to reopen when their counties reached "moderate" spread, have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. Deadline reported that Universal Studios Hollywood laid off over 2,200 employees since July and Disney laid off 28,000 employees in September.