Speaking on May 13 at the White House, President Trump took issue with Dr. Fauci’s comments to a Senate hearing a day earlier about the risks to children of reopening and his assessment that a vaccine was unlikely before classes could begin this autumn.
He said: “Look, he wants to play all sides of the equation.”
“I was surprised by his answer actually, because, you know, it’s just to me – it’s not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to schools,” the president told reporters.
The president said “the only thing that would be acceptable” is giving older teachers and professors a few more weeks before they return.
“Because this is a disease that attacks age, and it attacks health,” he said.
“But with the young children, I mean, and students, it’s really – just take a look at the statistics. It’s pretty amazing,” he added.
President Trump is keen to get Americans back to work and has praised governors who are moving to do so while criticizing others for not acting aggressively enough.
The US is split over President Trump’s focus on protecting livelihoods, critics accuse him of gambling with lives to serve his own political interests ahead of November’s re-election bid.
His latest comments come amid reports of some young children being severely affected by an inflammatory syndrome that could be linked to the virus.
Speaking to lawmakers on May 12, Dr. Fauci, a White House task force coronavirus expert, warned that relaxing stay-at-home rules too quickly could bring more “suffering and death”.
The director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases emphasized the importance of not being “cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects” of the disease.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said: “We just have to see on a step-by-step basis as we get into the period of time with the fall, about reopening the schools, exactly where we will be in the dynamics of the outbreak.”
He also said the real US death toll is probably higher than the official figure.
On May 12, Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan said he was lifting that state’s stay-at-home measure, replacing it on May 15 with a “safer-at-home” order.
The Republican, who has been critical of President Trump, cited a two-week decline in severe cases and deaths that federal guidelines recommend.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide has passed 4 million milestone, according to data collated by Johns Hopkins University.
The global death toll has also risen to above 277,000.
The US remains the worst-hit country in the world, accounting for over a quarter of confirmed cases and a third of deaths.
Experts warn the true number of infections is likely to be far higher, with low testing rates in many countries skewing the data.
Daily death tolls are continuing to drop in some nations, including Spain, but there is concern that easing lockdown restrictions could lead to a “second wave” of infections.
In addition, governments are bracing for economic fallout as the pandemic hits global markets and supply chains.
A senior Chinese official has told local media that the pandemic was a “big test” that had exposed weaknesses in the country’s public health system. The rare admission, from the director of China’s National Health Commission, Li Bin, comes after sustained criticism abroad of China’s early response.
This week, some lockdown measures have begun easing in Italy, once the global epicenter of the pandemic. Italians have been able to exercise outdoors and visit family members in their region.
France has recorded its lowest daily number of coronavirus deaths for more than a month, with 80 deaths over the past 24 hours. Authorities are preparing to ease restrictions from May 11, as is the government in neighboring Spain.
Meanwhile, lockdowns are continuing in countries like South Africa, despite calls from opposition parties for it to end.
In South Korea, renewed restrictions are being imposed on bars and clubs after a series of transmissions linked to Seoul’s leisure district.
Russia also canceled a military parade in Moscow, planned as part of the country’s Victory Day celebrations. Instead, President Vladimir Putin hosted a subdued event on May 9, laying roses at the Eternal Flame war memorial.
However, despite scientific evidence, leaders of several countries have continued to express skepticism about the virus and the need for lockdowns.
In Belarus, thousands of soldiers marched to celebrate Victory Day, as President Alexander Lukashenko rejected calls for tougher measures.
British medical journal The Lancet has written a scathing editorial about Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, calling him the biggest threat to his country’s ability to contain the spread of coronavirus. Brazil is currently reporting the highest number of cases in Latin America – over 10,000 more on May 9, bringing the national total to nearly 156,000. But despite the outbreak, President Bolsonaro continues to dismiss the virus’ severity and has clashed with governors over lockdown measures.
The US passed a grim milestone, with more than a million cases of Covid-19 recorded.
There are now 3,098,391 confirmed cases worldwide and 216,160 deaths, Johns Hopkins University says.
The House of Representatives has abandoned plans to return to Washington next week. Several states, including Georgia and Texas, have pressed ahead with plans to reopen amid the infection rise.
President Donald Trump was speaking earlier at a White House event about supporting small businesses through the coronavirus pandemic.
As he closed the event, President Trump expressed his pride at the work being done by his government and tried to compare the scale of the outbreak with the Spanish Flu pandemic.
He said: “We’re going through a period of time the likes of which we’ve never seen in this country before, certainly even if you go back into 1917 – it was the worst of all time but it was also not as bad here.
“It was very bad, it was very rough – it was a bad one. But it wasn’t quite like what we’re going through right now.”
However, the Spanish Flu pandemic happened in 1918, not 1917. It also had a far higher death toll than the coronavirus pandemic has had so far.
According to Johns Hopkins University tracking, more than 50 million people died of Spanish Flu worldwide while the current death toll from the coronavirus is about 216,000.
Some 675,000 Americans died in the 1918 pandemic, while some 58,000 are thought to have died with Covid-19.
In other developments, the organizers of the Academy Awards have announced that they will bend their own rules to let films only released on streaming platforms be eligible for nomination.
Under current rules, films have to be screened in a cinema in Los Angeles for at least seven days to qualify for awards.
On April 28, Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement that their commitment to theatre releases was “unchanged and unwavering” but said the pandemic has made the rule change necessary.
The Academy’s new policy is only temporary while most cinemas are closed because of coronavirus.
Many scheduled movie releases have been completely delayed by the pandemic.
According to recent figures from Johns Hopkins University, more than 200,000 people worldwide have now died with the coronavirus.
There are more than 2.8 million confirmed cases of Covid-19, the tally shows.
It comes after the US death toll passed 50,000, as Americans endure the world’s deadliest outbreak.
Chinese state media reported the first known death linked to the virus on January 11. More than 210 countries and territories have since reported cases.
Five countries have now reported death tolls above 20,000 although the way fatalities are counted varies widely.
The US, Spain and Italy have seen the highest number of reported fatalities.
France, which does include deaths in care homes in its statistics, said its toll had risen by 369 on April 25.
There have been 22,614 virus deaths in France since the start of March, but health officials say the mortality rate in hospitals is falling, and the number of people in intensive care has dropped for the seventeenth consecutive day.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says patients who have recovered from the virus may not be protected against re-infection.
Earlier this week, WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus highlighted upward trends in Covid-19 cases in Africa, Eastern Europe, Central America and South America.
Dr Tedros said that while most of the epidemics in Western Europe appeared to be stable or in decline, for many countries the disease was just getting started.
He said: “And some (countries) that were affected early in the pandemic are now starting to see a resurgence in cases.”
One such country is Singapore, which was initially praised for its success in containing the virus, but has since seen a surge of infections linked to industrial worksites and tightly packed worker dormitories.
Elsewhere in Asia, Chinese authorities reported no new deaths for the tenth consecutive day on April 25, and South Korea had its second day without a death.
Statisticians have cautioned that a reported death toll may not always give the full picture of a country’s epidemic.
The US has seen the most coronavirus deaths of any individual country, for example, but also has a far larger population than most.
With 330 million people, the US population exceeds the total number of people living in the five largest countries in Western Europe – the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.
Many European countries have reported more deaths per head of population than the US, and Europe as a whole has reported more deaths overall.
Death rates also depend on who is counted. Some countries are including deaths in care homes in their data, giving a fuller picture, whereas others only count deaths in hospital where Covid-19 has been confirmed.