Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the most prominent members of the White House coronavirus task force, said on Monday that he has not spoken to or met with President Donald Trump in two weeks.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, added that that his contact with the President has become much less frequent.
Their last interaction was May 18, when Trump invited Fauci to provide medical context during a teleconference with the nation’s governors. The Task Force last met on May 28 and last held a White House press briefing on May 22.
News that the pair haven’t communicated in two weeks comes during a critical period in the US coronavirus response as all 50 states have relaxed social distancing measures even as the virus’ death toll continues to climb. As of Monday, at least 1.79 million Americans have contracted the virus and at least 104,300 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Throughout the pandemic, Fauci has been a rare source of frank honesty from within the White House coronavirus task force, holding firm with an at times overly optimistic President.
This was on full display last week when he called for a cautious approach to reopening the US and implored Americans to wear face masks in public, comments that are at odds with Trump’s push to have America quickly return to normalcy.
“I want to protect myself and protect others, and also because I want to make it be a symbol for people to see that that’s the kind of thing you should be doing,” Fauci said during an interview on CNN’s “Newsroom.”
But his willingness to refute Trump has garnered sustained criticism from the President’s allies in conservative media and fueled questions about the pair’s working relationship.
In April, a conservative commentator called for Fauci to be fired after he said in a CNN interview more could have been done to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Trump retweeted it but later pushed back on the idea that he might fire Fauci.
“Today I walk in, I hear I’m going to fire him. I’m not firing him. I think he is a wonderful guy,” the President told reporters during a daily White House briefing at the time.
Trump said his retweet doesn’t matter, and the tweet was “somebody’s opinion.” The President said he did notice the “fire Fauci” hashtag before he retweeted it.
“This was a person’s view. Not everybody’s happy with Anthony. Not everybody is happy with everybody,” he said. “But I will tell you, we have done a job the likes of which nobody has ever done.”
This story has been updated with additional background information.
CNN’s Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.