‘The deaths are real deaths’: Fauci rejects Trump effort to cast doubt on U.S. COVID numbers

Shant Shahrigian, New York Daily News

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease expert, rejected President Trump’s Twilight Zone take on the COVID outbreak, saying “there’s no running away from the numbers.”

“The deaths are real deaths,” the doc said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “All you need to do is to go out into the trenches, go to the hospitals, see what the health care workers are dealing with. They are under very stressed situations in many areas of the country, the hospital beds are stretched.”

Fauci had been asked about a Trump tweet stating the country’s number of COVID cases and deaths was “exaggerated” due to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “ridiculous method of determination compared to other countries.” As with other claims downplaying the scope of the outbreak — which had claimed more than 350,000 lives in the U.S. as of Sunday — the lame-duck commander-in-chief provided no evidence for his assertion.

“To have 300,000 cases in a given day, and between two and 3,000 deaths a day is just terrible,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“There’s no running away from the numbers,” he added. “It’s something that we absolutely got to grasp and get our arms around and turn that inflection down by very intensive adherence to the public health measures, uniformly, throughout the country, with no exception.”

Asked about the country’s pace of coronavirus vaccinations, Fauci acknowledged “a couple of glitches.”

“I think it’s just trying to get a massive vaccine program started and getting off on the right foot,” he said. “In the last 72 hours, they’ve gotten 1.5 million doses into people’s arms, which is an average of about 500,000 a day, which is much better than the beginning when it was much, much less than that.

“We are not where we want to be — there is no doubt about that — but I think we can get there if we really accelerate, get some momentum going and see what happens as we get into the first couple of weeks of January,” he added.