Dr. Anthony Fauci said during an interview on Tuesday that he hasn’t spoken to President Donald Trump in weeks. The revelation came as the doctor appeared on NPR‘s 1A podcast, according to The Huffington Post‘s Lee Moran.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was seen almost daily during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. He often spoke during the daily press briefings carried out by the Trump administration. Now, those briefings are no longer daily. In fact, the task force hasn’t had a televised briefing in over a month. Fauci told the podcast he hasn’t spoken to the president in two weeks. He added their last conversation concerned the ongoing development of a vaccine.
Earlier in June, Fauci told the news website Stat that the taskforce meetings used to be daily, including Saturdays and Sundays. He also said the president attended “about 75 percent” of those taskforce meetings. Both the public and private meetings have since been scaled back.
Moran pointed out that it appears those meetings started tailing off just days after Trump posited it might be worth trying to inject disinfectant and light into the human body in order to fight COVID-19. The last press briefing from the task force came just days after that incident. The private meetings apparently went on for a few more weeks, according to Fauci.
Moran also claimed Trump often took the focus away from experts like Fauci and Dr. Barbara Birx. Instead, the writer said, the president used the briefings to berate the media and float his opinions on medications that could battle the virus.
In addition to the reduction in public briefings and private meetings, members of the task force have been authorized to give fewer television and radio interviews. Moran reported commentators to the podcast on social media believe all of the scaling back was part of a concerted effort by the Trump administration. Those commenters said the president has tried to focus on rebuilding the economy, rather than the health effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
During the same 1A podcast interview, Fauci also talked about his views on the way states were opening back up. While the Trump administration released criteria for when governors were supposed to move through a phased reopening, the doctor believes not everyone is following that criteria. Instead, he said, some governors are more worried about the political and economic ramifications of a shutdown.