New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was asked Monday if he is expecting President Donald Trump to fire Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases.
“ ‘I can’t imagine, as crazy as things get in this world and cra-aaazy Washington, I can’t imagine that would ever happen.’ ”
The question came at the end of Cuomo’s daily press briefing on the pandemic.
“I think he’s great,” said Cuomo of Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “I think Americans trust him. He has been very good to me. I’ve spoken to him several times, and, as we are walking through uncharted waters, I think he has been extraordinary.”
In an interview with CNN on Sunday, Fauci conceded that “logically” fewer people would have been infected if stay-at-home and social-distancing measures had been imposed in February, instead of mid-March. Fauci went to great lengths to explain that the decision was based on many considerations, but he still apparently managed to irk Trump, who retweeted a message from former Republican congressional candidate DeAnna Lorraine that included the hashtag #FireFauci.
“Fauci was telling people on February 29 that there was nothing to worry about and it posed no threat to the U.S. at large,” Lorraine’s tweet read.
Trump has shown frustration with Fauci in recent weeks for his cautionary remarks on when the current lockdown may end and allow Americans go back to work, as well as for his less than full-throated enthusiasm for the drug hydroxychloroquine. Trump spent much of Sunday lashing out at perceived critics, including Fox News anchor Chris Wallace and the New York Times.
Trump is pushing to restart the economy, which has been hurt by the restrictions on movement that have led many people to stay home to slow the spread of the virus and avoid overwhelming the health-care system.
The president has bristled at criticism of his handling of the crisis and failure to act on the advice of health-care and intelligence experts when it first emerged.
The U.S. leads the world in the number of cases of the virus and has the highest death toll, at 558,528 cases and 22,154 fatalities, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University. At least 42,009 Americans have recovered.
New York state represents the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak with more than 100,000 cases and a death toll of 10,056, or almost four times the number of lives lost in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.