Donald Trump Jr. says that coronavirus deaths are “down to almost nothing,” encapsulating the Trump team’s pandemic response: ignoring it and hoping it’ll go away.
“I went through the CDC data because I kept hearing about new infections, but I was like, ‘Why aren’t they talking about this?’” the president’s eldest son said in an interview with Fox News on Thursday night. “Oh, because the number is almost nothing. Because we’ve gotten control of this thing; we understand how it works.”
While it’s true that the death rate is down from the start of the pandemic, the U.S. broke its own record for new coronavirus cases again on Thursday with more than 90,000 confirmed new cases, according to the New York Times. More than a thousand people died yesterday, as both cases and deaths have increased over the past few weeks.
And experts expect deaths to spike again in the coming months, due to the influx of new cases and the stress on hospital systems. More than 46,000 people are currently hospitalized for coronavirus, according to the COVID Tracking Project. And if states continue to ease mandates and restrictions, the country could hit more than half a million deaths by February 1, according to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
Responding to a clip of CNN reporter and neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta saying that people who’ve recently attended a Trump rally should quarantine, Trump Jr. called Gupta and others “morons.”
“These people are truly morons, you know what I mean?” Trump Jr. said. “I like how they go after [White House coronavirus adviser Dr.] Scott Atlas because he’s not an epidemiologist, but Sanjay Gupta now magically is.”
Atlas, a member of the coronavirus task force who has been defended by the president and criticized by colleague and top infectious disease official Dr. Anthony Fauci in recent weeks, has openly advocated a “herd immunity” strategy of doing nothing to try to mitigate the virus by allowing everyone to catch it, and hope people become immune and not too many die. Very few public health experts believe this is a good idea.
Furthermore, Gupta has a point: Trump appeared at 17 rallies between August and September, and 14 of those rallies were followed by spikes in cases in the host county the next month, according to CNN. And two positive cases in North Carolina have been linked to a Trump rally outside Charlotte last week.
The president himself has continued to promote the obvious lie that the United States has passed the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, even after his own battle with the illness earlier this month.
“Our vaccine will eradicate the virus, and by the way, we have it,” Trump said during a rally in Tampa Thursday, another lie. “But whether we have it or not, it’s rounding the turn. It’s rounding the turn.”