Fauci makes clear Trump did not hold up coronavirus shutdowns

President Donald J. Trump listens as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony S. Fauci delivers remarks during a coronavirus update briefing Sunday, March 29, 2020, in the Rose Garden at the White House. (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

(USA Features) President Donald Trump did not delay social distancing and city shutdown recommendations in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the lead health official on his task force noted Monday.

“The president went with the health recommendations,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told reporters.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases chief said there was a lot of misunderstanding generated from a Sunday interview on CNN in which he was asked by host Jake Tapper if implementing those guidelines sooner would have saved lives.

The question was asked with the implication that President Trump intentionally delayed issuing them because he did not want to shut down the economy.

“Obviously, you could logically say, that if you had a process that was ongoing, and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives. Obviously, no one is going to deny that,” Fauci told Tapper.

The response sparked outrage among conservatives who have become increasingly critical of Fauci. It also spurred a tweet from the president containing the hashtag #FireFauci along with a defense of his early decision to ban travel from China.

On Monday, Fauci said he was attempting to answer Tapper’s question honestly but added that the president has always been responsive to the recommendations regarding the outbreak that he’s been given by his health experts.

He did mention vague “pushback” to shutting down earlier, but said Monday: “That was the wrong choice of words.”

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