WASHINGTON (AP) — Sidelined but not silenced, President Donald Trump demonstrated anew this past week he can’t be relied on…
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sidelined but not silenced, President Donald Trump demonstrated anew this past week he can’t be relied on to give a straight account of the disease that has afflicted millions, now including him. He heralded the arrival of a COVID-19 cure, which did not happen, and likened the coronavirus to the common flu even while knowing better.
The week featured the only vice presidential debate of the 2020 campaign and an emphasis on policy lacking in the virulent Trump vs. Joe Biden showdown of the week before.
Vice President Mike Pence asserted Trump respects the science on climate change when actually the president mocks it, and Pence defended a White House gathering that the government’s infectious disease chief branded a super-spreader event. His Democratic rival, California Sen. Kamala Harris, tripped on tax policy while wrongly accusing Trump of dismissing the pandemic as a hoax.
TRUMP, on those who get COVID-19. “Now what happens is you get better. That’s what happens, you get better.” — to Fox Business on Thursday.
THE FACTS: As a blanket assurance, that is obviously false. Most people get better. But more than 1 million people worldwide have died from the disease, more than 212,000 of them in the U.S. The disease also may leave many people with long-term harm that is not fully understood.
Trump’s doctor, Navy Cmdr. Sean Conley, said Friday that Trump was showing no evidence of his illness progressing or adverse reactions to the aggressive course of therapy prescribed by his doctors. That doesn’t mean he is over it.
TRUMP, on the experimental antibodies he was administered: “We have a cure. … I can tell you, it’s a cure and I’m talking to you today because of it.” — speaking to Rush Limbaugh’s radio show by phone Friday.
THE FACTS: We don’t have a cure. His statement is premature at best and may raise false hope. And his present condition cannot be pinned on a particular medicine in the combination of drugs he has been given.
Antibody drugs like the one Trump was given are among the most promising therapies being tested for treating and preventing coronavirus infections. But the medicines are still in testing; their safety and effectiveness are not yet known.
Trump was among fewer than 10 people who were able to access the Regeneron Pharmaceuticals drug without having to enroll in a study. Eli Lilly and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. are both asking the U.S. government to allow emergency use of their antibody drugs, which aim to help the immune system clear the virus.
Trump has routinely made too much of promising developments in the pandemic and given weight to bogus theories about how to prevent and treat the disease while dismissing the importance of true preventives such as wearing a mask and staying away from groups of people.
TRUMP: “Flu season is coming up! Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu. Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!” — tweet Tuesday.
THE FACTS: He’s contradicting science and himself.
First, he’s overstating the U.S. death toll from the seasonal flu. The flu has killed 12,000 to 61,000 Americans annually since 2010, not 100,000, a benchmark rarely reached in U.S. history. More than 212,000 Americans have died of COVID-19.
Second, health officials widely agree that the coronavirus seems to be at least several times more lethal than seasonal flu. At one point, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health told Congress it could be as much as 10 times more lethal.
“There’s absolutely no doubt, no doubt at all, that this COVID-19 … is far more serious than a seasonal flu, no doubt about that,” Fauci told MSNBC this past week.
Trump’s tweet also flies in the face of what he told author Bob Woodward in February, that the virus was even more deadly than “your strenuous flus,” even while suggesting publicly that the pandemic was akin to the flu season. “This is deadly stuff,” he told the author.
TRUMP on Biden: “He gets up and he says, we’re not fracking. We’re not fracking. He was fracking. For six months he was fracking. He was raising his — his very thin hand and he was fracking. And now all of a sudden he’s not fracking. … It’s ridiculous. He said he’s not fracking.” — Thursday to Fox News.
THE FACTS: It’s OK to be very confused by this.
What Trump was trying to say is that Biden flip-flopped on whether he would ban fracking, though the president skipped the part about banning in his remark. Biden in a 2019 Democratic primary debate said he would ban fracking, but his campaign quickly said he misspoke and…
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