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Fauci urges end to divisiveness over US’ response to virus crisis

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Infectious disease expert calls White House effort to discredit him 'bizarre', wants to 'stop this nonsense'

WASHINGTON: US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci called the White House effort to discredit him "bizarre" and urged an end to the divisiveness over the country's response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying "let's stop this nonsense".

Dr Fauci, who has become a popular and trusted figure during the coronavirus outbreak, came under criticism from President Donald Trump and some of Mr Trump's Republican allies as he cautioned against reopening the US economy too soon.

The recent spike in infections, primarily in states that were among the earliest to lift restrictions, put Dr Fauci on a collision course with the White House.

The number of new cases and fatalities continued to mount across the United States on Wednesday, with Texas and Oklahoma recording new highs.

Johns Hopkins University, which tracks the spread of the disease, said late on Wednesday that 67,632 new cases of the disease had been reported across the country in the previous 24 hours, a new national record.

The Texas Department of State Health Services reported 10,791 new cases and 110 new fatalities, saying in a tweet that both numbers were "new highs" for the state.

Oklahoma - where Governor Kevin Stitt announced on Wednesday that he had tested positive for the virus - recorded 1,075 new cases, a single-day record.

Dr Fauci told The Atlantic in an interview: "One of the things that is part of the problem is the dynamics of the divisiveness that is going on now that it becomes difficult to engage in a dialogue of honest evaluation of what has gone right and what has gone wrong.

"We've got to own this, reset this and say okay, let's stop this nonsense and figure out how can we get our control over this now."

LIST

The White House over the weekend distributed a list of statements Dr Fauci made early in the pandemic that turned out to be wrong as understanding of the disease developed, according to media reports.

President Trump said this week he valued Dr Fauci's input but did not always agree with him.

Dr Fauci said: "You know, it is a bit bizarre. I don't really fully understand it."

He said he believed the people involved in releasing that list, which was misleading because it did not include the entirety of Dr Fauci's statements or other context, are really "taken aback by what a big mistake that was".

White House tensions with Dr Fauci have risen with the decline of Mr Trump's popularity in opinion polls over the President's handling of the outbreak.

The White House has denied that Dr Fauci has been sidelined.

But White House trade adviser Peter Navarro wrote an opinion piece attacking Dr Fauci for having made mistakes.

Before departing for a trip to Atlanta, Mr Trump was asked whether Mr Navarro had gone rogue.

"Well he made a statement representing himself. He shouldn't be doing that. No, I have a very good relationship with Anthony," Mr Trump said.

Dr Fauci told The Atlantic: "I can't explain Peter Navarro. He is in a world by himself. So I don't even want to go there."

Dr Fauci said in a Financial Times interview last week that he had not briefed Mr Trump in two months.

He said on Wednesday his advice is passed on to Mr Trump indirectly, through Vice-President Mike Pence, who heads the White House coronavirus task force. - REUTERS

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