Last updated on July 14, 2020
Probably the most dangerous thing Trump said this weekend, a 99% meme of harmlessness that will get amplified because even at its minimum, it means a “free fall” to a much higher death toll. 131,000 have died. Expect more spin as his denial continues.
President Trump dismissed the severity of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States over the weekend, downplaying the impact of the disease and saying that while the testing of tens of millions of American had identified many cases, “99 percent” of them were “totally harmless.”
His remarks about a virus that has already claimed nearly 130,000 lives were perplexing. The coronavirus is surging across the Sunbelt states and has rebounded in California. At least 2.8 million Americans are known to be infected, and public health officials have said the real number of infections may be 10 times higher.
WHAT WAS SAID
Likewise, testing — there were no tests for a new virus, but now we have tested over 40 million people. But by so doing, we show cases, 99 percent of which are totally harmless. Results that no other country will show, because no other country has testing that we have — not in terms of the numbers or in terms of the quality.
False. No matter how you define harmless, most public health experts and respected coronavirus disease models would flatly contradict Mr. Trump’s assessment.
Calculating the toll of a rapidly moving pandemic while it is still raging is a Sisyphean feat, with outbreaks popping up in different parts of the country, even as improvements in care and new therapies curb mortality rates.
Studies that have calculated the death rate based on broader antibody testing that takes these silent cases into consideration suggest an infection death rate of less than 1 percent, said Dr. Ashish K. Jha, the faculty director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.
“It’s always tricky to do this in the midst of a pandemic,” Dr. Jha said. “There are a lot of factors that go into it. But let’s say you took 1,000 Americans at random who were all infected. Our best guess is that between six and 10 would likely die of the virus.”
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