On Sunday, President Donald Trump retweeted a call to fire Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top health expert on his coronavirus task force, after Fauci made comments that indicated that earlier action by the administration to mitigate the virus could have saved lives.
On the evening of Easter Sunday, Trump retweeted DeAnna Lorraine, a former California congressional candidate, who pointed to comments allegedly made on Feb. 29 in which Fauci claimed that the public didn't need to worry about the coronavirus. Her tweet included a call to #FireFauci.
"Sorry Fake News, it's all on tape. I banned China long before people spoke up," Trump added while retweeting Lorraine.
Trump was referring to travel restrictions he placed on China in early February. While experts agree that limiting travel to China helped delay the arrival of the coronavirus into the United States, many say the federal government missed an opportunity to use those extra weeks to ramp up testing capabilities and stockpile much-needed medical equipment.
Trump's angry retweet came hours after Fauci appeared on CNN and said that lives could have been saved if the administration had instituted social distancing guidelines earlier on in the outbreak.
During that same interview, Fauci also said that it could be possible to relax social distancing guidelines and allow certain aspects of the economy to re-open by next month. On Friday, Trump said he would make the biggest decision of his presidency in the coming weeks as he balances jumpstarting the economy and preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
"I can only hope to God I make the right decision," Trump said.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Trump has "grown frustrated with Dr. Fauci's candor." The Journal cited Fauci's hesitation in widely promoting hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment, despite Trump's past promotions of the medication. While the drug has shown some promise in treating COVID-19 in extremely small samples, it's yet to have been tested in connection with the virus on a large scale.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been a fixture at the White House's daily coronavirus task force briefings and has earned a reputation as one of the administration's most trustworthy leaders in the face of the pandemic. According to an April 8 Quinnipiac University National Poll, Fauci received the highest approval rating of his handling of the pandemic of the public officials polled.
Earlier Sunday, The New York Times published a story that recapped some of the missteps the U.S. made in the months leading up to the coronavirus outbreak.