The top infectious disease expert in the United States said in an interview with Stanford Medicine on Monday that the reason cases of the coronavirus were surging in some states was because the country did not shut down completely.
"The Europeans have done it. People in Asia have done it. We did not shut down entirely. And that's the reason why when we went up, we started to come down and then we plateaued at a level that was really quite high about 20,000 infections a day. Then as we started to re-open, we're seeing the surges that we're seeing today as we speak."
Dr. Anthony Fauci's comments came as a rift between him and President Donald Trump continues to widen over his administration's response to the pandemic and health officials' guidance for how to reopen.
Earlier on Monday, Trump retweeted to his 83 million followers the accusations of a former game show host that "everyone is lying" about COVID-19, including the CDC.
Soon after, Trump retweeted another post that was critical of Fauci specifically.
But later at the White House, Trump said he appreciated Fauci's advice.
"Well, I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci. I've had for a long time. Right from the beginning. I find him to be a very nice person. I don't always agree with him... No, I get along with him very well. I like, personally."
Last week, Trump told Fox News that Fauci had made a lot of mistakes concerning the coronavirus.
A day later, Fauci told the Financial Times that he has not briefed Trump in two months.
Then, over the weekend, it was reported that the White House distributed a list of statements Fauci made early in the pandemic that turned out to be wrong as understanding of the disease developed.
On Monday, White House said that it only sent responses to a news outlet's questions.
"We were asked a very specific question by the Washington Post, and that question was: President Trump noted that Dr. Fauci had made some mistakes, and we provided a direct answer to what was a direct question."
Tensions between Trump and Fauci have escalated as coronavirus infections in the U.S. soar, with Florida hitting a record number of cases in recent days and California announcing on Monday a sweeping rollback of its reopening plans.