Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday that he's not sure what President Donald Trump meant when he said earlier that evening that the country is "rounding the corner" on the coronavirus pandemic.
"I'm not sure what he means," Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN's Jim Acosta on "The Situation Room."
"There are certain states that are actually doing well in the sense of that the case numbers are coming down." However, Fauci continued, experts remain concerned by a number of states, including Montana, Michigan, Minnesota and the Dakotas, that are starting to see an uptick in the percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive -- an indication of spread of the virus.
The exchange marked another example of a top scientist and a member of the White House coronavirus task force publicly disputing the President's claims about the virus, a dynamic that has played out nearly since the start of the pandemic.
"By the way, we are rounding the corner," Trump said during a news briefing at the White House. "We are rounding the corner on the virus."
Earlier Friday, a new model often cited by top health officials projected that more than 410,000 people in the US could die from the coronavirus by January 1 -- more than doubling the current death toll.
"Of course it's possible," Fauci said of the model's forecast. "If you do a lot of indoor activity and you don't utilize masks to the utmost, you very likely will get to this number."
But Fauci cast the projection as a "good heads up" of what could happen if Americans don't take precautions. "Although the number's a little scary ... it may be a sort of a nudge for us to realize that we can do something to stop that," Fauci said.
The model from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation said that near-universal mask use could cut the number of projected additional fatalities by more than half.
Heading into Labor Day weekend, Fauci advised people to wear masks, maintain social distancing and avoid large crowds.
"We want to make sure that all over the country, but particularly in the vulnerable states that are starting to show an uptick, that we abide by the public health mandates and rules that we talk about all the time over the weekend and not, in essence, have the same type of surges that we have seen following other holiday weekends like the Fourth of July and Memorial Day," he said.
CNN's Nick Valencia contributed to this report.