'If we are not working from the truth, more lives will be lost, economic hardship and suffering will be extended unnecessarily,' Pelosi wrote in a letter to House Democrats.
As Donald Trump spoke during his daily coronavirus briefing Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a stark warning for Americans to "ignore the lies" and "insist on the truth" while the U.S. assesses next steps in the crisis.
Pelosi's scathing outline of Trump's monthslong handling of the virus outbreak contrasted with his eagerness to reopen the economy.
"There are important decisions ahead," Pelosi wrote to House Democrats. "But if we are not working from the truth, more lives will be lost, economic hardship and suffering will be extended unnecessarily."
She said the president ignored early warnings about the virus and took "insufficient" action that "caused unnecessary death and disaster." Because of his "incompetent" reaction, she said, the economy is now a "disaster."
"The truth is a weak person, a poor leader, takes no responsibility," she wrote.
It was a stunning missive from the California Democrat who typically reserves her most harsh criticisms of the president for private settings. The two are essentially no longer on speaking terms.
"The truth is, from this moment on, Americans must ignore lies and start to listen to scientists and other respected professionals in order to protect ourselves and our loved ones," she wrote to colleagues.
"Our future will be healthy and prosperous if we no longer tolerate lies and deceit," she wrote.
Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill are in a standoff over the next federal aid package, a follow-up to the $2.2 trillion approved last month.
Congress will remain all but shuttered for the rest of the month, delaying its next meeting to no sooner than May 4, citing the need to protect members from the coronavirus pandemic.
The average age of lawmakers is right around 60, with many leaders decades older and part of a vulnerable age group.