As the United States approaches 3 million total coronavirus cases, the nation’s top infectious disease expert warned Americans on Tuesday not to fall into a “false complacency” about the nation’s falling death rate from the coronavirus pandemic.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, made the remarks during a question-and-answer session with U.S. Senator Doug Jones on Facebook.
“It’s a false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death,” Fauci said. “There’s so many other things that are very dangerous and bad about this virus, don’t get yourself into false complacency.
The U.S. has recorded 131,457 deaths from COVID-19 as of Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. President Donald Trump boasted late Tuesday night on Twitter that the “Death Rate from Coronavirus is down tenfold!”
Death Rate from Coronavirus is down tenfold!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 8, 2020
But Fauci warned earlier this week that the United States is “still knee-deep in the first wave” of the pandemic.
Fauci’s latest warning on the state of coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. came on the same day the Trump administration formally notified the United Nations it is withdrawing from the World Health Organization, despite the surging number of COVID-19 cases in the country.
Trump has accused the WHO of having a pro-China bias in its handling of the coronavirus outbreak and has demanded the agency impose reforms. Trump froze U.S. funding for the WHO in April and a month later announced his intentions to drop out.
It will be a full year before the U.S. officially exits the WHO under the organization’s rules. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has said he will rejoin world health body if he is elected in November.
Meanwhile, the WHO acknowledged on Tuesday that airborne transmission plays a role in the spread of the coronavirus and planned to release a new set of recommendations about how to avoid infection.
A group of 239 scientists from 32 countries released an open letter on Monday calling on the agency to review its guidance on how the disease passes between people.
The scientists say the coronavirus is airborne, meaning virus particles can hover in the air in indoor spaces and infect people when the particles are inhaled.
The WHO has said the virus is spread through larger respiratory droplets from an infected person’s coughs and sneezes but which drop out of the air quickly because of their size.