For the better part of 2020, US President Donald Trump has repeatedly denied the toll the Covid-19 pandemic has had on his nation.
In the final days before the election, his message has been no different – lashing out at doctors, disputing science and declaring that the US is "rounding the turn" on a virus that's killed almost a quarter of a million Americans and infected close to 10 million.
As a result, the United States should brace itself for "a whole lot of hurt", a rising death toll and a winter of 100,000 coronavirus cases or more each day, the country's leading infectious disease expert has warned.
"We're in for a lot of hurt," Dr Anthony Fauci told The Washington Post in a scathing interview published on Saturday night.
"It's not a good situation. 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."
Fauci, who the US President has previously referred to as an "idiot" who's "been here for 500 years", said the US needs to make an "abrupt change" in its public health practices and behaviours – pointing to the actions of Trump's challenger Joe Biden as an example.
While Trump has rallied in states and cities experiencing record surges in hospitalisations and infections, Biden "is taking it seriously from a public health perspective" by consistently wearing a mask in public and holding socially distanced events, Fauci said.
The President's perspective, meanwhile, is focused on "the economy and reopening the country".
Despite cases rising once again, Fauci told the publication that the White House coronavirus task force meets less frequently and has little influence because of Trump's focus on reopening America, saying that the "public health aspect of the task force has diminished greatly". He added that he hadn't spoken to Trump since his Covid-19 diagnosis in October.
Scott Atlas, who has become Trump's favoured pandemic adviser and has advocated for letting the virus spread among healthy young Americans, is someone Fauci said he has "real problems with".
"He's a smart guy who's talking about things that I believe he doesn't have any real insight or knowledge or experience in," he said of Atlas.
"He keeps talking about things that when you dissect it out and parse it out, it doesn't make any sense."
In a statement to The Washington Post, White House spokesman Judd Deere slammed Fauci for his comments, deeming them "unacceptable" and accusing the 79-year-old of "playing politics".
Deere said Fauci "knows the risks [from Covid-19] today are dramatically lower than they were only a few months ago".
"It's unacceptable and breaking with all norms for Fauci, a senior member of the President's Coronavirus Task Force and someone who has praised President Trump's actions throughout this pandemic, to choose three days before an election to play politics," Deere said.
"As a member of the Task Force, Fauci has a duty to express concerns or push for a change in strategy, but he's not done that, instead choosing to criticise 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."