As the U.S. surpassed 350,000 coronavirus deaths, President Trump took to Twitter to say the CDC numbers were incorrect. Two top U.S. health officials quickly challenged the president's groundless claim.
On Sunday, the president tweeted the CDC's method of counting is "far exaggerated" compared to other countries which, in his words, "report purposely, very inaccurately and low."
Later on CNN's "State of the Union," U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams defended the numbers and said one of the most challenging parts of the pandemic has been delivering people health information untainted by politics.
"From a public health perspective, I have no reason to doubt those numbers and I think people need to be very aware that it's not just about the deaths, as we talked about earlier, it's about the hospitalizations, the capacity," Dr. Adams said. "These cases are having an impact in an array of ways and people need to understand that there's a finish line in sight, but we've got to keep running towards it."
Meanwhile on ABC's "This Week," Dr. Anthony Fauci said, "There's no running away from the numbers," and that the nation has to work together to bring them down. He pointed to overwhelmed hospitals when asked about the tweet, saying "The deaths are real deaths."
"All you need to do is go out into the trenches," Dr. Fauci said. "Go to the hospitals and see what the health care workers are dealing with. They are under very stressful situations in many areas of the country. The hospital beds are stretched, people are running out of beds, running out of trained personnel who are exhausted."
President Trump later complained that Dr. Fauci is admired yet, quote, "he works for me and the Trump administration, and I am in no way given any credit for my work."
The president's comments Sunday came as his administration is being criticized for a slower-than-planned vaccine distribution roll out, as well as rising case numbers and a new variant making its way to the U.S.