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The RNC’s big Covid-19 lie, refuted in one chart

The United States has had one of the world’s worst responses to Covid-19. Trump wants you to believe the opposite.

A supporter photographs President Trump as he speaks during the first day of the Republican National Convention.
Travis Dove/New York Times via AP
Ian Millhiser is a senior correspondent at Vox, where he focuses on the Supreme Court, the Constitution, and the decline of liberal democracy in the United States. He received a JD from Duke University and is the author of two books on the Supreme Court.

If you spent the last five months living in a cave, then learned about the outside world solely through a livestream of the 2020 Republican National Convention, you would think Donald Trump was a visionary leader who saw what no one else saw — and who has led his nation to triumph against a deadly plague as a result.

“From the very beginning,” starts an RNC video misrepresenting Trump’s record on Covid-19, “Democrats, the media, and the World Health Organization got coronavirus wrong.” As heroic music plays over an image of Trump surrounded by American flags, the video claims, “one leader took decisive action to save lives: President Donald Trump.“

The video even features a clip ridiculing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) for saying — way back in early March — that he didn’t think that the coronavirus pandemic was “going to be as bad as it was in other countries.”

The reality is that, under President Trump’s leadership, the United States has one of the highest rates of coronavirus in the world — far higher than our peer nations. Indeed, Trump’s entire argument can be refuted in a single chart. This one:

A chart showing coronavirus cases in the developed world. Our World in Data

The data in this chart represents the number of cases per one million people in the United States and several other nations — and, as you can see, the number of cases in the United States vastly outstrips the prevalence of coronavirus in these other nations.

Nearly 180,000 Americans are dead because of the Covid-19 pandemic. As Vox’s German Lopez wrote:

The virus rages on, affecting every aspect of American life, from the economy to education to entertainment. ... Schools are closing down again after botched attempts to reopen, with outbreaks in universities and K-12 settings. America now has one of the worst ongoing epidemics in the world, with the most daily new cases and deaths, after controlling for population, among the developed countries.

In Europe, schools are reopening — and in some nations they never closed — while American parents struggle to balance their jobs with serving as surrogate teachers to children who can only see their regular teachers over Zoom.

In Taiwan and South Korea, cheering fans gather in stadiums to watch their favorite baseball team — over 10,000 fans watched a game in Taichung, Taiwan.

In Germany, restaurants are thriving, and dine-in reservations have spiked, while many American states are imposing new restrictions on our bars and restaurants because it simply is not safe for them to host indoor dining.

There are, in other words, world leaders who did take decisive action to save lives. Donald Trump isn’t one of them.

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