Trump’s interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace on Sunday was a fresh illustration of his strategy of obfuscation when he falsely claimed, once again, that case numbers are up across the country because of the increase in testing and claimed — when told that coronavirus cases are up 194% — that many of those cases are “young people that would heal in a day.”
At a time when the President has failed to offer any leadership on how to tackle the virus and tamp down the spread, he called the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, “a little bit of an alarmist.” Asked about the campaign to discredit Fauci by some of his advisers, Trump said Fauci “made a few mistakes” but insisted that he has “a very good relationship” with him. (In a new Fox poll, 74% of voters said they approved of the way Fauci has responded to the pandemic, compared to 43% who said that about the President).
While Trump acknowledged that there is “somewhat of a surge” in the United States — a vast understatement given that there have now been at least 3.7 million cases and more than 140,000 deaths in the US — Trump went on to tell Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” that the US “death chart” is “much more important” than the fact that the US broke a new record last week in new cases in a single day (more than 77,000).
The President claimed that the US has “maybe the lowest mortality rate anywhere in the world” and, during a quarrel with Wallace about those numbers, interrupted the interview to ask the White House press secretary to bring him a chart showing the mortality rate.
Wallace noted that according to data from Johns Hopkins University, which charted the mortality rate for 20 countries, the US ranked 7th in its mortality rate, better than the United Kingdom but worse than Brazil and Russia. (Trump pointed to different data showing Italy and Spain doing worse than the US in terms of deaths, but Wallace noted that the chart did not include other countries doing better like Russia.)
Meanwhile, 15 weeks until Election Day, Trump does not seem to be taking any steps to address the fact that most voters do not trust him personally — as voters’ poor marks for his handling of the coronavirus continue driving his falling poll numbers.
A key factor in Trump’s slide is the fact that a broad majority of Americans do not trust the information that he puts out on Covid-19. Only 26% of registered voters trusted Trump to give accurate information about the coronavirus, according to last month’s New York Times/Siena College poll, while 77% of registered voters trusted the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
CNN confirmed this weekend that the White House is resisting a Senate GOP request to increase funding for the CDC that would fund coronavirus contact tracing and testing in the next round of stimulus funding, a dispute first reported by The Washington Post.
Americans may not respond well to that effort by the White House to limit funding. The new Fox poll also showed the rising concern among Americans about how the virus is affecting their lives: 29% said the coronavirus is the most important issue facing the country — and former Vice President Joe Biden held a 17-point edge over Trump when voters were asked who would better handle the virus (a major jump from May when Biden held only a 9-point advantage over Trump on that issue in the Fox poll).
Nearly 6 in 10 respondents said they were “very concerned” about the spread of the virus with a clear majority disapproving of Trump’s handling. Most striking: there was a major increase in the number of voters who said coronavirus is “not under control at all” in the United States: 51% said that was the case in the new poll, compared to 33% who said that a month ago.
Despite Trump’s new push to appeal to “the suburbs” by attacking Obama-era fair housing regulations that were aimed at desegregating those areas, a new analysis by CNN’s Harry Enten shows that Biden is currently winning suburbanites by a historic margin.
Part of Trump’s problem is the split screen of his continuing denials that the coronavirus is raging in the United States and the images of intensive care units in Miami-Dade County filled to 127% capacity as refrigerated trailers line up to serve as temporary morgues throughout the country. Each time he claims the administration is getting the virus under control, the data shows cases soaring in parts of Florida, Texas, Arizona and California.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has said that his city has “never had as many people infected or infectious” and told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” on Sunday that he was on the verge of issuing a new lockdown order.
“We’ve seen no national leadership, we’ve had to stand up testing centers on our own. We’ve had to do so much that is outside of our lane, because of the lack of national leadership,” Garcetti said, noting that it took Trump months to don a mask publicly, the simplest and most effective way to slow the spread of the virus. “We were left on our own when we should have had help.”
“Stop telling people this will be over soon,” Garcetti said. “Let people know that this is a marathon — that we have to kind of push through every single mile. And If we don’t come together as a nation with national leadership, we will see more people die.”