WASHINGTON - U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday criticized a key White House coronavirus adviser after she told a national television audience that a new surge in infections was "extraordinarily widespread" in rural areas of the country and cities.
Trump, in a Twitter comment, claimed, "Much of our Country is doing very well. Open the Schools!"
His assessment came a day after Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, told CNN, "We are in a new phase. What we are seeing today is different from March and April. To everybody who lives in a rural area: You are not immune or protected from this virus."
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, had told ABC on Sunday she had no confidence in Birx's earlier assessments weeks ago that the virus was receding in the U.S. before the new surge that developed in mid-June.
"I think the President has been spreading disinformation about the virus and she is his appointee so, I don't have confidence there, no," Pelosi said on ABC's This Week show.
Trump tweeted: "So Crazy Nancy Pelosi said horrible things about Dr. Deborah Birx, going after her because she was too positive on the very good job we are doing on combatting the China Virus, including Vaccines & Therapeutics. In order to counter Nancy, Deborah took the bait & hit us. Pathetic!"
In another tweet, he claimed, "With the exception of New York & a few other locations, we've done MUCH better than most other Countries in dealing with the China Virus. Many of these countries are now having a major second wave. The Fake News is working overtime to make the USA (& me) look as bad as possible!"
Trump's considerably more favorable view of how the U.S. is faring against the virus comes as he is facing a difficult re-election contest Nov. 3 against a Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, who for weeks has led him in national polling.
Trump has claimed to be "a wartime president" in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, but Biden has retorted that Trump has abandoned the battlefield fight against the disease.
Birx said what she witnessed as she traveled to 14 states in the last three weeks gave her concern.
"As I traveled around the country, I saw all of America moving," Birx said. "If you have chosen to go on vacation into a hot spot, you really need to come back and protect those with comorbidities and assume you're infected."
Admiral Brett Giroir, an assistant Health and Human Services secretary, stressed the continued need for wearing face masks.
"If we don't do that, and if we don't limit the indoor crowded spaces, the virus will continue to run," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
"We are very concerned and this is a very serious point," he said.
The U.S. has recorded nearly 155,000 coronavirus deaths and more than 4.6 million confirmed infections, with both figures the highest national totals across the world.