Dr. Anthony Fauci told the Washington Post he avoids going to the White House because "of all the infections there."
Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, told the Post he has not talked to President Donald Trump since early October, despite spikes in daily new infection rates reported from across the country and Fauci's key role in the administration's pandemic response.
Fauci continues to call into meetings and attends virtually, the Post reported, but he no longer appears at the West Wing in person after several infections have been reported in recent weeks among top administration officials and members of their staff.
The president and the first lady were among members of the White House orbit who announced they tested positive for the virus last month. Other top figures — including two Republican senators, adviser Hope Hicks, and adviser Kellyanne Conway, among others — also tested positive.
Several of these people tested positive for the virus after attending a gathering for newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett. The gathering, where people mingled and interacted without masks, has since become characterized as a superspreader event. In total, nearly three dozen people close to Trump tested positive in the days after the event.
Fauci also classified the event as a superspreader.
"I think the data speaks for themselves," he said. "We had a superspreader event in the White House and it was in a situation where people were crowded together and were not wearing masks."
The coronavirus has infected more than 9.1 million people in the United States, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Of that, more than 230,000 people have died from the disease.
Fauci in his interview with the Post also warned of "a whole lot of hurt" in the coming months, saying he's expecting positive coronavirus cases to spike.
"We're in for a whole lot of hurt. It's not a good situation," Fauci said. "All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly."
The expert's warnings to the Post and previous calls that the US will have to wait until 2022 to see "some semblances of normality" greatly differ from the Trump administration's characterization of the state of the pandemic in the country. The White House, for example, released a report that lists "ending the COVID-19 pandemic" as one of Trump's accomplishments.
When asked about Fauci's remarks to the Post, White House spokesperson Judd Deere slammed the infectious diseases expert and accused him of playing politics ahead of the election.
"It's unacceptable and breaking with all norms for Dr. Fauci, a senior member of the President's Coronavirus Taskforce and someone who has praised President Trump's actions throughout this pandemic, to choose three days before an election to play politics," Deere said in a statement to Business Insider. "As a member of the Task Force, Dr. Fauci has a duty to express concerns or push for a change in strategy, but he's not done that, instead choosing to criticize the President in the media and make his political leanings known by praising the President's opponent— exactly what the American people have come to expect from The Swamp."