Tuesday, 22 September, 2020

Trump on Dr. Fauci’s high approval ratings: ‘Nobody likes me’

US President Donald Trump has complained about the high ratings of the country’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, joking “nobody likes me”.

“It can only be my personality,” Trump told reporters on Tuesday as his administration is under harsh criticism over its handling of the coronavirus resulting in him struggling to improve his standing with voters.

The Republican president’s disagreement with Fauci and his failed approach to dealing with the pandemic has put him in jeopardy of losing the Nov. 3 presidential election to Democrat Joe Biden.

On the other hand, Fauci, as one of the most trusted people in government, is respected by many Americans who listen to his advice diligently on how to protect themselves against the virus.

Unlike Fauci and most other public health experts, Trump has defended his support for malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a hedge against the disease.

Health officials believe that the drug could lead to heart and other problems, with the US Food and Drug Administration last month revoking its emergency-use authorization for hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 following several studies that cast doubt on its effectiveness.

Trump, however, said he and others in his administration deserved praise and admiration too for their handling of the virus, not just Fauci and Deborah Birx, another prominent member of the task force.

“He’s working with our administration and for the most part we have done pretty much what he and others, Dr. Birx and others, who are terrific, recommended. And he’s got this high approval rating. So why don’t I have a high approval rating and the administration with respect to the virus? We should have a very high (approval rating),” Trump said on Tuesday.

“So it sort of is curious, a man works for us, and yet they’re highly thought of and nobody likes me. It can only be my personality,” he said.

Congress, White House struggle to find deal on new coronavirus aid

Meanwhile, Republicans in the White House and the US Congress failed to reach an agreement over their own plan for providing $1 trillion in new coronavirus aid on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Trump told reporters that he did not like aspects of the bill hammered out with fellow Republicans and unveiled on Monday.

Although he did not elaborate, he said that in the back-and-forth of negotiating, “It’s sort of semi-irrelevant.”

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he opposed part of the plan that includes a provision to provide funding for a new FBI building requested by the White House, saying it is not related to coronavirus aid.

This comes as a $600-per-week enhanced coronavirus unemployment benefit, which helps workers cope with economic fallout of the disease, was due to expire on Friday.

It remained unclear whether Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would be able to reach a deal with Democratic leaders in Congress by that day to extend the benefit in some form.

McConnell had told reporters there was “zero chance” that the situation can get back to normal without new protections from suits for businesses and schools reopening during the crisis, provisions for which the Republican bill entails, but Democrats oppose the measures.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the bill a “liability-on-steriods proposal” that made her wonder whether McConnell was serious about reaching a compromise.

US states report one-day records of deaths

The recent spike in infections and the increasing number of people who die of the disease has dampened early hopes that the country was past the worst of the crisis.

On Tuesday, four US states in the South and West reported one-day records of deaths.

In Texas, the number of cases passed the 400,000 mark and in California, where 133 deaths were reported by mid-afternoon, health officials said Latinos made up more than half of its cases.

Arkansas, Florida, Montana and Oregon each saw record spikes in deaths.

So far, more than 4,498,300 people have tested positive in the United States and the national death toll is almost 152,320.

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