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Photos: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images; Al Drago/Pool/Getty Images

The White House said Wednesday that a USA Today op-ed by economic adviser Peter Navarro attacking Anthony Fauci "didn’t go through normal White House clearance processes."

Why it matters: In a normal administration, Navarro's actions would almost certainly result in his dismissal — but the White House did not immediately indicate any disciplinary action against him. It also further obscures the administration's support of Fauci, days after it put out a statement listing the times he was "wrong on things" in the coronavirus pandemic's early days.

The state of play: In the uncleared op-ed, Navarro wrote that Fauci "has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on."

  • "So when you ask me whether I listen to Dr. Fauci’s advice, my answer is: only with skepticism and caution," he concluded.
  • Navarro, an economist, has no formal medical education or training.

What they're saying: "The Peter Navarro op-ed didn’t go through normal White House clearance processes and is the opinion of Peter alone. @realDonaldTrump values the expertise of the medical professionals advising his Administration," tweeted White House director of strategic communications Alyssa Farah.

The big picture: White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany denied earlier this week that the administration had released "opposition research" on Fauci.

  • She instead painted the statement on Fauci's mistakes as "a direct answer to what was a direct question" for a Washington Post piece, even though the administration forwarded that document to other outlets.
  • Fauci said last week that he has not briefed President Trump on the coronavirus in at least two months and that he last saw the president in person at the White House on June 2.

Go deeper

Trump claims COVID "will go away," Biden calls his response disqualifying

President Trump repeated baseless claims at the final presidential debate that the coronavirus "will go away" and that the U.S. is "rounding the turn," while Joe Biden argued that any president that has allowed 220,000 Americans to die on his watch should not be re-elected.

Why it matters: The U.S. is now averaging about 59,000 new coronavirus infections a day, and added another 73,000 cases on Thursday, according to the Covid Tracking Project. The country recorded 1,038 deaths due to the virus Thursday, the highest since late September.

Updated Oct 22, 2020 - World

France becomes 2nd Western European country to top 1M coronavirus cases

French President Emmanuel Macron at the Seine Saint Denis prefecture headquarters in Paris, on Tuesday. Photo: Ludovic Marin/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

France has become the second country in Western Europe to surpass 1 million COVID-19 cases, Johns Hopkins University data shows

The big picture: France had reported 1,000,369 cases and 34,075 deaths from the coronavirus by Thursday morning, per JHU. French President Emmanuel Macron declared a state of health emergency and imposed a curfew on virus hot spots earlier this month. Spain on Wednesday became the first Western European nation to top 1 million cases.

How the coronavirus pandemic could end

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It's still the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, but history, biology and the knowledge gained from our first nine months with COVID-19 point to how the pandemic might end.

The big picture: Pandemics don't last forever. But when they end, it usually isn't because a virus disappears or is eliminated. Instead, they can settle into a population, becoming a constant background presence that occasionally flares up in local outbreaks.