President Donald Trump criticized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Sunday morning, accusing it of propagating “fake news” by exaggerating the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the United States. In a Sunday morning tweet, Trump said the numbers are inflated because of the CDC’s “ridiculous method of determination compared to other countries.” Trump sent the tweet as the the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States passed the 20-million mark and the death toll surpassed 350,000, by far the highest in the world, followed by Brazil, which has reported more than 195,000 deaths.
The president’s claim is absurd on its face because experts have long said the reality is likely the opposite, that the number of cases and deaths are actually higher than what is known since some are never reported. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, immediately pushed back on Trump’s claim. “The deaths are real deaths,” Fauci said on ABC’s This Week. “I mean, all you need to do is to go out into the trenches, go to the hospitals, see what the health care workers are dealing with. They are under very stressed situations in many areas of the country, the hospital beds are stretched. People are running out of beds, running out of trained personnel who are exhaustive right now. That’s real, that’s not fake.”
Fauci made similar comments in an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press. “Those are real numbers, real people and real deaths,” Fauci said.
Trump later responded to Fauci by taking to Twitter again and complaining about how Fauci is liked better. Fauci, Trump said, is “revered by the LameStream Media” for doing a good job “yet he works for me … and I am in no way given any credit for my work.”
Fauci wasn’t the only one to push back against Trump’s allegations. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on CNN’s State of the Union that “from a public health perspective, I have no reason to doubt those numbers.”