One of America’s top government scientists, Anthony Fauci, has issued an urgent plea for a change in US policy on the coronavirus, drawing a sharp rebuke from the Trump administration in the final days of a hard-fought election campaign. Fauci, in an interview in the Washington Post on Sunday, warned that the United States is headed for “a whole lot of hurt” unless it makes an “abrupt change” in health practices. With many Americans ignoring safe practices and many hospitals already under severe strain as cold weather and the flu season arrive, “You could not possibly be positioned more poorly,” Fauci said. “It’s not a good situation.” The virus has claimed more than 230,000 lives in the US, which last week suffered record high numbers of cases — hitting 98,000 on Friday. Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, offered a scathing response to Fauci. “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,” he said in a statement. He lashed into Fauci for “choosing to criticize the president in the media and make his political leanings known by praising the president’s opponent.” Trump, keeping up a frenetic pace of campaigning against Democratic challenger Joe Biden, has insisted the country is “rounding the turn” on the virus, and has even alleged — without any evidence — that many doctors are inflating virus death tolls for profit.