A senior White House official echoed Donald Trump by again criticising the World Health Organisation for allegedly missing the coronavirus outbreak, and said the virus could reemerge this fall – but in a “limited way.”
Kellyanne Conway also offered another glimpse into a still-evolving White House plan, which she described as “guidance” for opening “pieces” of the country. The president and his team have made several large steps away from his stated desire – in contradiction of his public health team – to open the entire country by 12 April, a goal he missed.
A White House and president always in search of a foil and fight has found just that in the WHO, the kind of global organisation that Mr Trump has sharply criticised as part of his “America first” message since becoming a professional politician in 2015.
“This is COVID-19, not COVID-1 folks,” Ms Conway said. “And so you would think the people in charge of the World Health Organisation, facts and figures, would be on top of that.”
She called the freeze on US funding to the group “a pause.”
Mr Trump announced Tuesday evening he has ordered that freeze while his administration investigates the WHO’s actions regarding the coronavirus outbreak — especially what happened in China and what organisation officials knew and when.
That came after the president on Tuesday evening called the WHO’s handling of the pandemic outbreak “disastrous,” saying the group wasted the time of his administration and other countries.
Mr Trump’s extended remarks about the WHO during his daily pandemic press conference was accompanied by his criticism of governors as he sought to shift blame for the nearly 610,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and 26,000 deaths in the US, according to The Johns Hopkins University.
Ms Conway, who is not a doctor or scientist, also was a bit more specific about what the administration sees happening with the virus later this year.
Anthony Fauci, the administration’s top infectious disease official, has warned Covid-19 might go mostly dormant over the hot summer months before coming back in some form this fall.
“Some of the scientists and doctors say that there could be other strains later on, this could come back in the fall in a limited way,” she said.
That’s one reason why Mr Fauci, in an interview published by Vanity Fair, cast doubt on whether popular US sporting leagues will play games again this year.
“Will we have college football this fall?” the interviewer asked Mr Fauci, who has been more outspoken than the president about his perceived need to keep much of normal life closed until the virus is eradicated.
“You know, to be honest with you … I don’t know. I really don’t,” he said. “It’s really going to depend on what actually evolves over the next couple of months.”
Vice President Mike Pence was scheduled to hold a teleconference late Wednesday morning with the committee that selects the four teams that make the College Football Playoff each year.
A Pence spokeswoman had not responded to a request for a summary of that discussion.
Football is the biggest moneymaker for the NCAA each year. Without that revenue, sports insiders say colleges soon will start cancelling non-revenue sports.
“We have to get our sports back,” Mr Trump said Tuesday evening as dusk hit the Rose Garden. “I’m tired of watching baseball games that are 14 years old.”