A clash of words marked the day as President Trump gave an interview with Axios on the handling of the coronavirus and New York City health commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot resigned amid tensions with Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Barbot stepped down from her position after saying she was deeply disappointed in how Mayor de Blasio was handling the coronavirus pandemic.

In an email that was obtained by The New York Times, Barbot said: “I leave my post today with deep disappointment that during the most critical public health crisis in our lifetime, that the Health Department’s incomparable disease control expertise was not used to the degree it could have been.

“Our experts are world renowned for their epidemiology, surveillance and response work. The city would be well served by having them at the strategic center of the response not in the background,” the email said. On the same day that Barbot resigned, de Blasio named Dr. Dave A. Chokshi as health commissioner.

Barbot’s resignation came as de Blasio took control of coronavirus contact tracing from the Health Department, which had performed the task for a decade. 

Prior to Bardot’s resignation, President Trump gave an interview with Axios that covered a range of topics, including the pandemic. Trump deflected criticism, saying that the pandemic is “under control as much as you can control it.”

“This has never happened before. 1917, but it was totally different," he said. "It was a flu in that case. If you watch the fake news on television, they don’t even talk about it, but there are 188 other countries right now that are suffering. Some, proportionately, far greater than we are.”

When pressed over the growing number of cases, Trump blamed testing saying: “You test, some kid has even just a little runny nose, it’s a case. And then you report many cases.”

He maintained that the death toll in the U.S. is not as bad as the numbers seem displaying his own charts to prove his point. “If you look at death, take a look at some of these charts. Right here, the U.S. is lowest in numerous categories. Lower than the world, lower than Europe," he said.

Trump continued: “You have to go by the cases” as he suggested South Korea, which has one of the lowest death rates, is faking its statistics.

In other coronavirus news:

  • A Los Angeles dental surgeon and South African healthcare researcher have found a strong connection between COVID-19 deaths and gum disease, according to a three-month study. The study indicated patients with gum disease release higher levels of a harmful protein that can spread to the lungs and cause a life-threatening respiratory crisis.
  • Advocacy group Public Citizen is urging Gilead Sciences to continue the development of the remdesivir alternative GS-441524 to treat COVID-19 or provide evidence as to why the drug would not be effective at treating COVID-19 patients. The group sent a letter to Gilead, along with several other entities, claiming that the drug has shown to be successful in cats that are infected with coronavirus, as well as showing evidence that it is “superior” to remdesivir. It's also less expensive than remdesivir. The group has the backing of more than 500,000 supporters.
  • Abiomed has received emergency-use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the use of its Impella heart pumps to treat COVID-19 patients with pulmonary edema or myocarditis. The heart pump had already received emergency-use authorization for right-ventricular dysfunction during the pandemic.
  • An obituary from the wife of man who died from COVID-19 publicly blamed President Trump, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and all the people who chose not to wear masks for her husband’s death. Stacey Nagy said in the obituary: “Dave did everything he was supposed to do, but you did not. Shame on all of you, and may Karma find you all!”
  • Six lawsuits have been filed by auto insurance policyholders against auto insurers such as Allstate, claiming they did not provide a sufficient rebate for not driving during the coronavirus pandemic. The policyholders claim the insurers were looking to maximize their profits and said rebates were not “fair and appropriate.” Allstate gave auto policyholders a 15% credit for the months of April, May and June.
  • Clorox wipes won’t be back in stock until 2021, the company’s CEO Benno Dorer told Reuters on Monday, saying it has been struggling with the unexpectedly high demand for the product. He said the "very complex" supply chain is stressed.
  • Booking.com said it will lay off 25% of its workforce as travel demand continues to decline because of the coronavirus. The company has 17,000 employees and will begin notifying them of the layoffs in September on a country-by-country basis. The layoffs will not affect Kayak or Priceline, which are also owned by parent company Bookings Holdings.
  • A survey indicated nearly twice as many Americans say they disbelieve what President Trump says about the coronavirus pandemic as those people who say they believe him. The survey from NBC News/Survey Monkey also indicated that 51% of people believe what Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, says while 55% trust the information they receive from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • The World Health Organization has issued a warning about vaccines that do not follow international guidelines after researchers from the Gamaleya Institute in Moscow said they will receive approval for a COVID-19 vaccine before Aug. 15. The Russian vaccine is not one of the six listed by the WHO that are currently in clinical trials. But Russian researchers have said their trial results are “highly positive.”
  • Black-owned businesses are twice as likely to fail during the pandemic than other businesses because of the concentration of the virus in their communities, according to research released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The report estimated that 41% of Black-owned firms decreased from February to April while Latinx businesses dropped by 32%. White-owned businesses declined by 17%, the report indicated.
  • Global positive coronavirus cases topped 18.3 million Tuesday, with more 695,800 COVID-19 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. still leads the number of confirmed coronavirus cases at more than 4.74 million with more than 156,100 COVID-19 deaths. Brazil and India follow the U.S. in total number of coronavirus cases at more than 2.7 million and 1.8 million, respectively, while COVID-19 total deaths behind the U.S. were recorded in Brazil, Mexico, U.K. and India, Johns Hopkins data shows.

The victim thought the COVID-19 virus was a hoax, despite it killing more than 135,000 people in the United States so far The victim thought the COVID-19 virus was a hoax, despite it killing more than 135,000 people in the United States so far Photo: National Institutes of Health / Handout