The US should prepare for “a whole lot of hurt” under the coronavirus pandemic, senior public health expert Anthony Fauci said, predicting a winter of 100,000 or more cases a day and a rising death toll.
“We’re in for a whole lot of hurt,” Fauci told the Washington Post in a hard-hitting interview published on Saturday night, three days out from election day, immediately angering the Trump White House.
“It’s not a good situation. All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly.”
More than 9.1m cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in the US and more than 230,000 people have died. Daily case counts vary but agree that on Friday the US set a world record for cases in a single day, between 99,000 and 100,000, as numbers surge in several states, many of them electoral battlegrounds key to control of the White House. On Saturday, Johns Hopkins University reported more than 81,000 new cases. There were 862 deaths, down from more than 1,000 the day before.
Donald Trump, recently recovered from the virus himself, continues to campaign for re-election, staging rallies at which mitigation strategies such as mask-wearing and social distancing are not observed and regularly claiming the US is “rounding the corner”. On Friday he made the baseless claim that doctors were rewarded financially if people died of Covid.
Trump has charged that Biden is “hiding” and regularly mocked his opponent for wearing a mask. On Sunday, campaign adviser Anita Dunn told CNN’s State of the Union that since March, “what Vice-President Biden has done is basically why he’s got in this race, he showed people what a responsible president does and how a responsible president acts.”
Fauci told the Post Biden was “taking it seriously from a public health perspective”. Trump, he said, was “looking at it from a different perspective … the economy and reopening the country.”
Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, told the Post Trump “always put the well-being of the American people first”, and added: “It’s unacceptable and breaking with all norms for Dr Fauci, a senior member of the president’s coronavirus taskforce and someone who has praised President Trump’s actions throughout this pandemic, to choose three days before an election to play politics.”