President Donald Trump appears to be living in an alternate reality when it comes to the COVID-19 threat.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump appears to be living in an alternate reality when it comes to the COVID-19 threat.
Over the weekend, he clung to the misguided notion that the virus will just “disappear” even as his top science experts and GOP allies bluntly say otherwise.
Trump also continued to wrongly insist that anyone who wants a coronavirus test is getting one, made the head-scratching suggestion that the virus is under control when infections are surging to fresh daily highs and lodged false accusations against the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
The statements came in a week of distorted truth. Trump referred repeatedly to his “ban” on travel from China that wasn’t so and issued a scattered indictment of Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden.
A look at his rhetoric and how they compare with the facts:
TRUMP vs. FAUCI
TRUMP: “Dr. Fauci at the beginning said, ‘This will pass. Don’t worry about it. This will pass.’ He was wrong.” — interview aired on “Fox News Sunday.”
THE FACTS: Trump is overstating it. While Fauci said in January and February that Americans need not panic about a virus threat at the time, he also said the situation was “evolving” and that public health officials were taking the threat seriously.
“Right now the risk is still low, but this could change, I’ve said that many times,” Fauci told NBC on Feb. 29. He allowed that if there are growing cases of community spread, it could become a “major outbreak.”
“When you start to see community spread, this could change and force you to become much more attentive to doing things that would protect you from spread,” Fauci said.
Fauci never claimed the virus would just “pass” or disappear.
TRUMP: “Dr. Fauci told me not to ban China, it would be a big mistake. I did it over and above his recommendation.” — Fox interview.
THE FACTS: That’s incorrect. While Fauci expressed some initial reservations about travel restrictions on China, he supported the decision by the time it was made.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who was coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force at the time and announced the travel restrictions, said Trump made the decision in late January after accepting the “uniform recommendation of the career public health officials here at HHS.”
While the World Health Organization did advise against the overuse of travel restrictions, Azar told reporters in February that his department’s career health officials had made a “considered recommendation, which I and the president adopted” in a bid to slow spread of the virus.
TRUMP: “I will be right eventually. You know I said, ‘It’s going to disappear.’ I’ll say it again. It’s going to disappear, and I’ll be right.” — Fox interview.
TRUMP: “We’ll put out the flames. … It’s going to be under control.” — Fox interview.
THE FACTS: “The virus is not going to disappear,” according to Fauci.
The number of confirmed cases in the U.S. per day has risen over the past month, hitting over 70,000 this past week, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University. That is higher even than what the country experienced from mid-April through early May, when deaths sharply rose.
Fauci has warned that the increase across the South and West “puts the entire country at risk” and that new infections could reach 100,000 a day if people don’t start listening to guidance from public health authorities to wear a mask and practice social distancing.
Arizona, California, Florida and Texas have recently been forced to shut down bars and businesses as virus cases surge. The U.S. currently has more than 3.7 million known cases and many more undetected.
In February, Trump asserted coronavirus cases were going “very substantially down, not up,” and told Fox Business it will be fine because “in April, supposedly, it dies with the hotter weather.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, visiting a hospital Wednesday in Kentucky, acknowledged that some of those early predictions were too rosy. “The straight talk here that everyone needs to understand: This is not going away,” he said.
Fauci says there “certainly” will be coronavirus infections in the fall and winter.
PETER NAVARRO, White House trade adviser: “When Fauci was telling the White House Coronavirus Task Force that there was only anecdotal evidence in support of hydroxychloroquine to fight the virus, I confronted him with scientific studies providing evidence of safety and efficacy. A recent Detroit hospital study showed a 50% reduction in the mortality rate when the medicine is used in early treatment.” — op-ed published Wednesday in USA Today.
THE FACTS: Navarro cherry-picks a study widely criticized as…
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