Donald Trump continues to insist the coronavirus will “disappear”, despite the recent surge in cases in several states like California, Texas, Arizona and Florida, and in contradiction of advice by public health experts that predict a long battle with the virus.
“I’ll be right eventually,” the president said in an interview that airs on Sunday with Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday after the host played a series of clips that showed Mr Trump making pronouncements about the virus that have turned out not to be true.
“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,” Mr Trump said of Covid-19, which has killed more than 140,000 Americans over the least five months.
The country surpassed the grim milestone of 140,000 Covid-19 deaths on Saturday into Sunday, but Mr Trump has still insisted that the US has the lowest mortality rate in the world, which is not true.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the US has the seventh-worst mortality rate due to the coronavirus. Countries like Russia and Brazil ranked lower in their own mortality rate, which Mr Wallace pointed out to the president.
“Can you please get me the mortality rate?” Mr Trump said to his staff in an attempt to prove himself correct about having the lowest mortality rate.
Mr Wallace later pointed out that the White House document the president was using was based on the European Centres for Disease Control and Prevention figures. The chart showed the US had a lower mortality rate than Spain and Italy, but it still was higher than countries like Brazil and South Korea, thus disproving the president’s claim.
Another claim Mr Trump has pushed in recent weeks was that the surge in coronavirus cases that states are seeing was because of an increase in testing. But when testing was brought up during the Fox News interview, Mr Wallace posited that the surge was due to a greater spread of the novel virus.
“Testing is up 37 per cent,” Mr Trump said.
“Cases are up 194 per cent. It isn’t just that testing has gone up, it’s that the virus has spread,” the Fox News host said in response.
Although the president has continued to push claims of increased testing and low mortality rate as the reasons why the US was still managing the coronavirus pandemic, Americans remain unconvinced.
A recent poll commissioned by ABC News and The Washington Post showed Americans trusted challenger Joe Biden more to handle the pandemic than Mr Trump. The former vice president holds a commanding 20-point lead over the sitting president in coronavirus response, with 54 per cent of those polled trusting Mr Biden over just 34 per cent who trust Mr Trump.
The Lincoln Project, a Republican-led super PAC and an anti-Trump group, also released a scathing ad against the president for the US hitting 140,000 coronavirus deaths.
“America now leads the world in COVID deaths,” the ad begins. “More than 140,000 Americans are dead. Friends and colleagues. Sisters, brothers, mothers, and fathers – 140,000 bodies.”
The ad went on to show an image of Mr Trump’s wall along the US-Mexico border.
“Side-by-side, they would span over 66 miles,” the voiceover said about the number of people who’ve died. “They would fill more than 1,160 football fields.”
“Trump is building his wall, just not the one he promised,” the video added.
A New York Times report released this weekend also indicated that the Trump administration pivoted its coronavirus response as early as April in an effort to declare victory over the virus.
“Over a critical period beginning in mid-April, President Trump and his team convinced themselves that the outbreak was fading, that they had given state governments all the resources they needed to contain its remaining ’embers’ and that it was time to ease up on the lockdown,” the report stated.
Then it took White House officials until early June to realise they were wrong; the virus was not disappearing and case numbers were not declining.
Mr Trump mentioned his “embers” terminology about the coronavirus when speaking to Mr Wallace, claiming that was still the case across the majority of the US.
“We have embers and we do have flames. Florida became more flame-like, but it is going to be under control,” the president said.
Florida has become the epicentre for the virus with the highest number of residents per capita testing positive for Covid-19. An additional 17 states are in the coronavirus “red zone” for their surging cases, according to a White House coronavirus task force document.
What the US has not seen in recent weeks or months, despite Mr Trump’s claims, was any sign the coronavirus was disappearing.
Anthony Fauci: The one man Trump can’t afford to fire
Trump denies Confederate flag is racist
Trump claims he is trying to ‘help’ Portland
Roger Stone uses racist slur in radio interview with black host
Nasa offers cash prize for design of new moon-ready space toilet