Donald Trump has been absent from White House COVID-19 task force meetings for “several months,” says White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Fauci.
According to CNBC, Vice President Pence leads the task force meetings that used to occur every day during the first few months of the pandemic but have now been scaled down to one virtual meeting a week despite cases continuing to rise.
“We certainly interact with the vice president at the task force meetings, and the vice president makes our feelings and what we talk about there known to the president,” Fauci told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd.
Trump apparently receives all of his information via Pence and coronavirus advisor Scott Atlas, according to the director of the National Institutes of Health Dr. Francis Collins, who did an interview with NPR on Monday. Dr. Collins also sits on the task force.
“The President is routinely briefed about the coronavirus each and every day,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Matthews told CNBC in a statement. “The relevant information is brought to him on the big decisions, and then he moves forward in the way that’s best for our country.”
While the President misses task force meetings, the United States is averaging nearly 61,000 new cases of COVID-19 on a daily basis, CNBC cited. Texas currently has the most cases out of any other state of the last seven days, currently sitting at 35,292 according to CDC COVID data tracker.
Trump has also gone on record to ridicule Dr. Fauci, saying that he is tired of listening to him.
“Fauci is a disaster. If I listened to him, we’d have 500,000 deaths,” he said, later repeating himself and raising the number even higher. “If there’s a reporter on, you can have it just the way I said it, I couldn’t care less.”
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpMore than 300 military family members endorse Biden Five takeaways from the final Trump-Biden debate Biden: ‘I would transition from the oil industry’ MORE has not been to a White House coronavirus task force meeting in several months, Anthony FauciAnthony FauciTrump, Biden clash over coronavirus response, mounting death toll Stahl tells Pence he and Trump ‘insulted 60 Minutes’ by giving ‘campaign speeches’ How Trump lost to the coronavirus MORE said Friday.
During an interview on “Meet the Press Daily,” the nation’s top infectious disease doctor said he hasn’t directly interacted with or spoken to Trump in some time.
“I definitely don’t have his ear as much as Scott Atlas right now, that has been a changing situation,” Fauci said.
Scott Atlas is a neuroradiologist and a fellow at the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank. He was added to the task force over the summer after appearing frequently on Fox News.
Atlas has emerged as one of Trump’s most influential advisers, but he has come under fire from public health experts inside and outside the administration who accuse him of feeding the president — and the public — misinformation.
Fauci said he meets virtually with the heads of federal health agencies, such as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn, as well as task force coordinator Deborah BirxDeborah BirxScott Atlas: Fauci ‘just one person on the task force’ Overnight Health Care: Trump takes criticism of Fauci to a new level | GOP Health Committee chairman defends Fauci | Birx confronted Pence about Atlas Birx confronted Pence about Atlas MORE.
Fauci said that during the spring, the task force would meet almost every day, but once the focus of the White House shifted to the economics of reopening the country, the frequency of official task force meetings has dropped to once a week.
Fauci said most of his interactions with the White House now are with Vice President Pence.
“We certainly interact with the vice president at the task force meetings, and the vice president makes our feelings known to the president, but direct involvement with the president and discussions, I have not done that in a while,” Fauci said.
Fauci said the country is in a “precarious” position, and people really need to understand how difficult the winter will be if coronavirus infections continue to spike the way they are now.
The United States on Thursday reported at least 75,049 new coronavirus cases, the second-highest daily total so far.
“We don’t want to shut the country down. Every time I talk about things that we need to do, people get concerned. We’re not talking about shutting down, but we’re talking about doubling down on some of the fundamental public health measures that we need to adhere to,” Fauci said, like the universal wearing of masks, physical distancing, avoiding large crowds and indoor dining.
“They seem rather simple, but they really do work,” he said.
LVIV, Ukraine – On Oct. 1, the implementation stage of the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) began as the Army replaces the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) to assess Soldier fitness. Task Force Illini Soldiers are preparing for the new standards while deployed.
Prior to October 2020, Soldiers were required to take the 3-event APFT. The APFT included two-minutes of push-ups and sit-ups, and a 2-mile run. Participants were scored on the number of repetitions they completed against standards for their age and gender. Soldiers will not be required to take the ACFT for a record score until 2022.
The ACFT, now in its implementation stage, is the Army’s new 6-event test including a three-repetition maximum deadlift, a standing power throw, hand release push-ups, a sprint-drag-carry, leg tucks, and a two-mile run. The Army determined these events will better serve to gauge a Soldier’s physical readiness to complete basic Soldier tasks and perform to the classification of their Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) regardless of age and gender.
The scoring classifications for the ACFT are, in ascending score order: “moderate,” which includes occupations such as Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic and Unit Supply Specialist; “significant,” for occupations like Health Care Specialist and Human Resource Specialist; and “heavy” for occupations such as Cavalry Scout and Motor Transport Operator.
“I think it’s a good comprehensive assessment of someone’s fitness. I think it is going to be a challenge for unit leaders to implement. It will be a rough start, but I am optimistic that we’ll get past the learning curve,” said Capt. Jonathon Gosa, a Task Force Illini Brigade Fires Advisor from East Moline, Illinois.
Though Task Force Illini Soldiers are not currently required to take the ACFT during their deployment, but many members are still using their time to prepare themselves for the test.
“I’m getting in better shape for the new ACFT. As a junior non-commissioned officer, I can’t expect my Soldiers to do anything I can’t do myself,” said Cpl. Cody Gaboriault, an Artillery Repairer from Creve Couer, Illinois.
Soldiers said they are looking forward to challenging themselves to complete the new ACFT events, and they have noted what they need to work most on.
“The sprint-drag-carry seems like the most endurance heavy event. It will be a test of mental and physical strength,” said Sgt. Dayna Brown, an Automated Logistics Specialist from Decatur, Illinois.
The deadlift seems to be the event most Task Force Illini Soldiers are looking forward to. The event requires a Soldier to deadlift between 140 and 340 pounds depending on their physical requirement classification.
“I’m excited for deadlifting because it’s already a part of my workout routine,” said Spc. Gianna Polizzi, Supply Specialist and Chicago resident. “I think the ACFT will be beneficial for those who already love strength training and for those who want to get into it more.”
Task Force Illini is the command element of Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine, which is responsible
With more than two dozen states reporting rising Covid-19 infections, new reports from leading health officials show a worsening of the pandemic across several US regions.
In White House coronavirus task force reports obtained by CNN this week, officials say there are “early signs of deterioration in the Sun Belt and continued deterioration in the Midwest and across the Northern States.”
The data comes as more state leaders have sounded the alarm on increasing infections, hospitalizations and deaths. The national average of new daily cases has climbed to just under 60,000 — a level that hasn’t been seen since the first week of August.
On Wednesday, at least 14 states saw their highest seven-day average of new daily cases, according to Johns Hopkins University: Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming. And at least five states — Illinois, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma and Utah — reported their highest daily case counts Thursday.
Meanwhile, more than 41,000 people are hospitalized with Covid-19 across the country, according to the COVID Tracking Project. Hospitals in states like Missouri and Idaho say they’ll soon be facing a crisis if hospitalizations continue to surge.
Deaths are also creeping upward. On Wednesday, the US reported the highest daily death toll in more than a month, with more than 1,100 new deaths. And an updated model from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects more than 140,000 Americans will likely die from the virus in the next three months.
States will likely ‘reimpose some social distancing mandates’
The institute says the “fall/winter surge has begun” — just a couple weeks behind Europe — and will intensify in November and December before reaching a peak in January.
“Many states will face enormous pressure on hospital capacity and will likely have to re-impose some social distancing mandates,” IHME said. “The best strategy to delay re-imposition of mandates and the associated economic hardship is to expand mask use.”
At least 32 states are reporting more new cases than the previous week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Only one state — Oregon — is trending in the right direction. Several state and local leaders have already pushed new efforts in hopes of holding down the virus ahead of the winter months.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced restrictions for several regions of the state. In New Orleans, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said any individual not wearing a mask in the city would be subject to a citation by police of up to $500.
“There are already laws on the books … it’s just a matter of taking that step to enforce, based on our police officers’ discretion,” the
Mayor Ron Nurenberg will spend Thursday in Washington talking with top Pentagon officials about bolstering the military’s many medical assets here, as well as the city’s hope to serve as the new home of U.S. Space Command.
Mayor-elect Ron Nirenberg attends the basic military training graduation of 526 airmen at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in 2017.
He’ll meet with the Air Force’s chief of staff, Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., as well as Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, U.S. Space Force’s chief of space operations, and the head of the Defense Health Agency, Lt. Gen. Ronald J. Place.
The goal: Convince those leaders that San Antonio, “Military City, U.S.A.,” is ready to host Space Command, support other new Air Force operations here and help expand military medicine missions.
“I wanted them to know San Antonio is going to show up, even when the world’s on pause,” Nirenberg said, referring to the coronavirus pandemic.
Unlike the annual SA to DC lobbying trip to Washington, this one will be a small affair, with Nirenberg bringing only two others with him. Nirenberg called this trip a “precision exercise.”
“If SA to DC is sending in the cavalry, this trip is the air strike,” he said.
In setting up the meetings, Pentagon officials asked that the mayor keep the group to just three people because they were to meet with major decision-makers. The others with him retired Marine Maj. Gen. Juan Ayala, director of the city’s Office of Military and Veteran Affairs, and Jenna Saucedo-Herrera, president/CEO of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation.
The big-ticket items on the agenda include Space Command and the Defense Health Agency, but there will be other stops. Nirenberg will talk with the undersecretary of the Army, and the Department of Defense’s office for Homeland Defense Integration and Defense Support to Civil Authorities.
The mayor’s office said Nirenberg will have specific “asks” or points of information for ongoing or future initiatives from the city or local military community that add value to Joint Base San Antonio, the largest joint base in the Department of Defense. The trip will encourage senior Pentagon leaders to consider keeping San Antonio at the top of their list to either relocate missions or activate new ones.
San Antonio made it through the initial cut as the Air Force seeks a permanent headquarters for the Space Command, now based in Colorado Springs, Colo. Governors from 26 states nominated 100 cities to be the command’s new home.
It was established as the 11th combat command in August 2019 and the Air Force is now in the evaluation phase of a selection process that aims to pick finalists in mid-to late-November. A decision is expected in January, and the new headquarters will take about six years to put in place.
Nirenberg has said San Antonio is a natural fit for Space Command because of its quality of life, a skilled
Atlas also cultivated Trump’s affection with his public assertions that the pandemic is nearly over, despite death and infection counts showing otherwise, and his willingness to tell the public that a vaccine could be developed before the Nov. 3 election, despite clear indications of a slower timetable.
Atlas’s ascendancy was apparent during a recent Oval Office meeting. After Trump left the room, Atlas startled other aides by walking behind the Resolute Desk and occupying the president’s personal space to keep the meeting going, according to one senior administration official. Atlas called this account “false and laughable.”
Discord on the coronavirus task force has worsened since the arrival in late summer of Atlas, whom colleagues said they regard as ill-informed, manipulative and at times dishonest. As the White House coronavirus response coordinator, Deborah Birx is tasked with collecting and analyzing infection data and compiling charts detailing upticks and other trends. But Atlas routinely has challenged Birx’s analysis and those of other doctors, including Anthony S. Fauci, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn, with what the other doctors considered junk science, according to three senior administration officials.
Birx recently confronted Vice President Pence, who chairs the task force, about the acrimony, according to two people familiar with the meeting. Birx, whose profile and influence has eroded considerably since Atlas’s arrival, told Pence’s office that she does not trust Atlas, does not believe he is giving Trump sound advice and wants him removed from the task force, the two people said.
Pence did not take sides, but rather told Atlas and Birx to bring data bolstering their perspectives to the task force and to work out their disagreements themselves, according to two senior administration officials.
The result has been a U.S. response increasingly plagued by distrust, infighting and lethargy, just as experts predict coronavirus cases could surge this winter and deaths could reach 400,000 by year’s end.
This assessment is based on interviews with 41 administration officials, advisers to the president, public health leaders and other people with knowledge of internal government deliberations, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to provide candid assessments or confidential information.
Atlas defended his views and conduct in a series of statements sent through a spokesperson and condemned The Washington Post’s reporting as “another story filled with overt lies and distortions to undermine the President and the expert advice he is being given.”
Atlas said he has always stressed “all appropriate mitigation measures to save lives,” and he responded to accounts of dissent on the task force by saying, “Any policy discussion where data isn’t being challenged isn’t a policy discussion.”
On the issue of herd immunity, Atlas said, “We emphatically deny that the White House, the President, the Administration, or anyone advising the President has pursued or advocated for a wide-open strategy of achieving herd immunity by letting the infection proceed through the community.”
The doctor’s denial conflicts with his previous public and
In March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urged people to stay away from crowded emergency rooms and put-off elective surgery, including heart procedures, to reduce potential coronavirus exposure. As early as April, doctors worried that people experiencing life-threatening emergencies were avoiding hospitals. Those fears were validated.
In Boston, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s March/April data showed heart attack hospitalizations down by 33 percent, stroke hospitalizations down by 58 percent, and referrals for breast and blood cancers down by more than 60 percent from the two months prior. Even those who experienced a heart attack or stroke avoided hospitals; one study showed a 38 percent drop in patients treated for ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction, a life-threatening narrowing of a vital artery to the heart.
By June, 41 percent of Americans reported having had avoided some care due to Covid fears. The CDC found that emergency visits across the U.S. declined 23 percent for heart attacks from March to May and 20 percent for strokes. Though the World Health Organization (WHO) still urges people to avoid routine dental and health care visits, following that guidance can produce unintended consequences, some long term.
With ailments such as cardiovascular disease, delay in treatment can lead to preventable deaths or permanent disabilities. Virginia Commonwealth University and Yale University researchers looked at excess deaths – the number of deaths over what would be expected based on previous years – in March and April. They concluded that overall. 56,246 (65 percent) of the 87,001 excess deaths in the U.S. during those two months were attributed to COVID-19.
However, in 14 states, including populous California and Texas, more than 50 percent of excess deaths were attributed to other causes, most commonly heart disease, the leading cause of death in America. A person whose primary cause of death is cardiovascular or pulmonary may have also had COVID 19. The five states with the most COVID-19 deaths also experienced large proportional increases in deaths due to pre-existing chronic conditions: diabetes (96 percent), heart diseases (89 percent), Alzheimer’s disease (64 percent), and cerebrovascular diseases (35 percent). New York City experienced the largest increases, notably those due to heart disease (398 percent) and diabetes (356 percent).
But with diseases like cancers, delayed treatment and delayed diagnoses cause impacts that won’t be felt immediately. Those delays are mounting up. One national study of U.S. patients who received testing from Quest Diagnostics between January and April found the mean weekly number of new diagnoses for six common cancers dropped by 46 percent, with breast cancer diagnoses in March and April declining the most (52 percent), compared to the two months prior. Data from 20 U.S. health care institutions found breast cancer screenings down by 89 percent and colorectal cancer screenings down by 85 percent in the first four months of 2020, compared to the same period last year.
Gallery: This Scary Symptom