President Trump tried to discount the destruction caused by COVID-19, tweeting Sunday that government counts of cases and deaths are "far exaggerated in the United States." He blamed the way the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention compiles the statistics, adding, "When in doubt, call it COVID." Many other countries intentionally keep their numbers low, Trump posted. The nation's surgeon general and top infectious disease expert immediately disagreed. "The deaths are real deaths," Dr. Anthony Fauci said. "All you need to do is go out into the trenches. Go to the hospitals and see what the health care workers are dealing with." Fauci made the comments in an interview on "This Week," ABC reports. The number of US coronavirus cases just passed topped 20 million, and there have been more than 350,000 deaths.
The surgeon general also contradicted the president on Sunday. "From a public health perspective, I have no reason to doubt those numbers," Dr. Jerome Adams said on "State of the Union," per CNN. Asked about Trump's tweet, per Politico, Adams said: "I don't speak for the president. I speak for the office of the Surgeon General and the Public Health Service, and I'm focused on making sure people get the information they need and wash your hands and stay your distance and get the vaccine when it's available." Trump complained in a second tweet after Fauci's interview Sunday, invoking "fake news" in both posts. "Something how Dr. Fauci is revered by the LameStream Media as such a great professional, having done, they say, such an incredible job," the president said, "yet he works for me and the Trump Administration, and I am in no way given any credit for my work." (Read more coronavirus stories.)