Anthony Fauci over the weekend gave perhaps his most critical public assessment yet of the White House's response to the coronavirus pandemic—and on Monday, another top coronavirus adviser was contradicting President Trump's take on the federal government's COVID-19 response. "This is not about lockdowns—it hasn’t been about lockdowns since March or April. It’s about an aggressive balanced approach that is not being implemented," says the Nov. 2 internal report from Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, which was obtained by the Washington Post. She says physical distancing, masks, handwashing, and avoiding indoor gatherings need to be emphasized. While Trump has frequently criticized Fauci, the White House selected Birx for her role, and he has largely praised her in the past. But Fauci said both he and Birx have recently lost Trump's ear.
In the report, Birx warns against large events with largely maskless attendees, like the sort held by Trump. She says testing is "flat or declining" in many of the places where cases are rising, while Trump has blamed increased cases on increased testing. She says that rather than "rounding the turn," as Trump has insisted the US is doing, we're actually entering the riskiest period so far and will likely hit more than 100,000 new cases per day this week. She says "much more aggressive action" is needed. The Post says her daily reports are getting increasingly more dire, but that an administration official says they're making little difference: "She feels like she’s being ignored." Trump reportedly plans to hold an indoor gathering at the White House to watch election returns, with 300 to 400 attendees expected. Meanwhile, Ohio's Republican governor says he follows the guidance of Birx and Fauci, which he calls "very good," per CNN. (Read more Deborah Birx stories.)