With the pandemic getting worse, not better, President Donald Trump tried to turn reality on its head during a series of rallies on Saturday in North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
“We’re rounding the turn. Our numbers are incredible,” Trump claimed in Lumberton, North Carolina, before blasting the media for its alleged fear-mongering.
But the US is not rounding a turn for the better. Friday and Saturday saw new daily coronavirus infections in the US surge past 80,000 for the first time ever. And it’s not just cases — hospitalizations are up more than 33 percent over the last month, and the seven-day average of deaths is now back above 800.
“That’s all I hear about now. Turn on television, ‘Covid, Covid, Covid Covid Covid.’ A plane goes down, 500 people dead, they don’t talk about it. ‘Covid Covid Covid Covid.’ By the way, on November 4, you won’t hear about it anymore,” Trump said. (In case it’s not clear, the plane crash he referred to was made up.)
"That's all I hear about now. Turn on TV, 'Covid, Covid, Covid Covid Covid.' A plane goes down, 500 people dead, they don't talk about it. 'Covid Covid Covid Covid.' By the way, on November 4th, you won't hear about it anymore ... 'please don't go and vote, Covid!'" -- Trump pic.twitter.com/1bh7x2RSTy— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 24, 2020
Trump invoked a nearly identical talking point a couple hours later in Circleville, Ohio, saying, “You know what? On November 4, you’re not gonna hear— the news, CNN, all they talk about, ‘Covid Covid Covid.’ If a plane goes down with 500 people, they don’t talk about ... they’re trying to scare everybody.”
Then, on Saturday night in Waukesha, Wisconsin, Trump argued, falsely, that the main reason cases in the US are going up is because the US does so much testing — “if we did half the testing, we’d have half the cases,” he said, as if testing causes cases — and insisted the coronavirus is “going away.” (In recent weeks, new cases have actually grown at a much faster rate than testing has expanded.)
Trump still thinks public health measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus are the fruit of a Democratic hoax to take him out. He also seems to (falsely) believe that without testing, there would be no coronavirus cases. pic.twitter.com/33wtRDVrDy— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 25, 2020
Trump echoed the same theme during his first rally of the day on Sunday in Londonderry, New Hampshire.
"Even without the vaccines, we're rounding the turn. It's going to be over." -- as new coronavirus cases spike to record levels in the US, Trump intensifies his efforts to turn reality on its head pic.twitter.com/XyugnUErUg— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 25, 2020
Not only is Trump’s rhetoric irresponsible, but the fact is, he’s holding rallies that make a mockery of social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines recommended by his own government. And these rallies appear to be actively making the pandemic worse by spreading the virus.
Perhaps the strongest evidence of this came on Friday, when Erin Mansfield, Josh Salman, and Dinah Voyles Pulver authored a piece for USA Today that examined how coronavirus cases surged in a number of places where Trump recently held rallies.
From the article:
The president has participated in nearly three dozen rallies since mid-August, all but two at airport hangars. A USA TODAY analysis shows COVID-19 cases grew at a faster rate than before after at least five of those rallies in the following counties: Blue Earth, Minnesota; Lackawanna, Pennsylvania; Marathon, Wisconsin; Dauphin, Pennsylvania; and Beltrami, Minnesota.
Together, those counties saw 1,500 more new cases in the two weeks following Trump’s rallies than the two weeks before – 9,647 cases, up from 8,069.
But to the extent that Trump actually engages with this reality, his message is that people have to learn to live with it.
“You have to lead your life, and you have to get out,” he advised his fans on Saturday in Ohio.
The White House has no plan — and they aren’t even trying to hide it
Beyond the mounting human toll — more than 220,000 Americans have now died from the coronavirus — the latest spike in cases comes at a politically inopportune time for the White House, with Election Day now just nine days away.
But at this point, the Trump administration isn’t even pretending to have a plan to slow the spread of the virus. Instead, during a CNN interview on Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said, revealingly, that “we’re not going to control the pandemic.”
MEADOWS: We're not going to control the pandemic— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 25, 2020
TAPPER: Why not?
M: Because it's a contagious virus
T: Why not make efforts to contain it?
M: What we need to do is make sure we have the proper mitigation factors to make sure people don't die pic.twitter.com/0DYgk4rB3T
Meanwhile, the White House is dealing with yet another cluster of cases — five people close to Vice President Mike Pence have tested positive for the virus in recent days. Pence, the chair of the White House coronavirus task force, was exposed. But instead of following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, which calls for exposed people to self-quarantine for 14 days, he plans to travel to pandemic rallies on Sunday and Monday.
So not only has the White House given up on protecting the American public, but Trump administration officials have failed to protect themselves. And Trump and Pence are actively making things worse by lying to the American public about the state of the pandemic at rallies that fuel further spread.