President Donald Trump on Saturday further shared his own interpretation of the coronavirus crisis, lashing out at Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, for explaining how Europe has been more successful at containing COVID-19 than the U.S. has.
“Wrong!” Trump tweeted from his golf resort in Potomac Falls, Virginia. He again brought up the rate of testing in the U.S., which he has repeatedly claimed “creates” more cases, arguing that the situation only looks worse here because more data is gathered.
More than 154,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S., which is the highest national death toll in the world and nearly 23% of global coronavirus fatalities in a country with just 4% of the world’s population.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis on Friday.
He said America’s economic and activity shutdowns didn’t go nearly as far as Europe’s did, and that states lifted restrictions too soon.
“If you look at what happened in Europe, when they shut down or locked down or went to shelter in place — however you want to describe it — they really did it to the tune of about 95%-plus of the country,” Fauci testified. The U.S., on the other hand, “really functionally shut down only about 50% in the sense of the totality of the country.”
When restrictions were lifted in the U.S., the virus transmission rates were still significantly higher than Europe’s. “We started off with a very difficult baseline of transmission that was going on at the time that we tried to open up the country,” Fauci testified.
He also said some states did not “strictly” comply with recommended health guidelines, while others ignored them as people were “congregating in crowds and not wearing masks.”
As an illustration of the consequences, Fauci pointed a chart (pictured below) displayed by the subcommittee chairman, Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.). The top line of the chart represents the trajectory of the virus in the U.S.; the lines far below represent cases in Europe, Canada and Japan.
As Fauci spoke on Friday, Trump went on the attack in a tweet, again blaming the increase in U.S. cases on testing, and calling the numbers “Lamestream media gold.”
As of Saturday, the U.S. had recorded 4.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misstated Clyburn’s title.
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