Obama vented his frustration at the Trump administration's handing of the pandemic to Stephen Colbert, saying don't 'undermine the leading epidemiologist' and call him an 'idiot'

  • Without mentioning him by name, former President Barack Obama took jabs at President Donald Trump's handling of COVID-19 during an interview with Stephen Colbert on Tuesday night.
  • Obama said that the US COVID-19 response could have done better by "preliminarily communicating effectively" and "respecting the science."
  • The former president also said it would have been helpful if the Trump administration was "not undermining the leading epidemiologist in the country and saying he's an idiot."
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Without calling him out by name, former President Barack Obama vented his frustration at President Donald Trump's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a Tuesday night interview with "The Late Show" host Stephen Colbert, the former president recognized that it was no easy task to respond to a rapidly-spreading coronavirus pandemic.

"This would have been hard for anyone," Obama said, but added that some aspects of responding to the virus were not "rocket science."

"We're not talking about inventing vaccines, which are now coming on board," he said.

The former president said the US COVID-19 response could have done better by "preliminarily communicating effectively" and "respecting the science."

Obama also appeared to take a jab at Trump, saying other actions that would have benefited the US response included "not undermining the leading epidemiologist in the country and saying he's an idiot, being consistent in terms of masks and social distancing, not suggesting that this is some act of oppression, but rather a common sense thing to prevent people from getting sick."

"Had we just taken those steps, there is no doubt that we would have saved some lives, and, ironically, the economy would be better because we would not be swinging back and forth in the way we have, and people would have more confidence about making day-to-day decisions about shopping," Obama continued.

At the onset of the pandemic, Trump downplayed the threat it posed to Americans, challenging advice from public health experts, including the top US infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, who serves on the White House coronavirus task force.

He has since softened his dismissive tone of the coronavirus — and he and others in his orbit have contracted COVID-19 — but has continued to flout health safety guidelines like observing social distancing and wearing a mask, politicizing the actions that health experts say are effective in slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

As of Tuesday, more than 12 million COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the US, with the death toll nearing 260,000, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University. More than 88,000 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, hitting a record-breaking figure for the 15th consecutive day, according to The Covid Tracking Project.

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