Trump Didn't See It Coming: Coronavirus Deaths Increased Tenfold This Month
A month ago, President Trump went on Fox and downplayed the potential lethality of the novel coronavirus and compared it to the seasonal flu.
"We've had horrible flus," Trump said March 24. "I mean, think of it: we average 36,000 people. Death. Death. I'm not talking about cases, I'm talking about death — 36,000 deaths a year. People die — 36 [thousand] — from the flu. But we've never closed down the country for the flu. So you say to yourself, 'What is this all about?'"
Trump's numbers on the flu have come into question, but even by his own cited numbers, there have now been far more deaths from COVID-19 — in less than two months. As the chart below shows, the curve nationally is hardly flattening by that measure.
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The United States saw its first documented death from the novel coronavirus Feb. 29, though new data suggest that the first death may have been weeks earlier. The day before that Feb. 29 death, Trump claimed it was Democrats who were "politicizing" the coronavirus and said it was "their new hoax" to criticize his administration's response to it.
A week later, the president was touting poll numbers (that have since receded) and saying, "Anybody that wants a test can get a test." (That still isn't close to true.)
A week after that, despite world health officials' warnings — and a day before it was declared a pandemic — Trump was calling the outbreak "unexpected" and urged people to "stay calm. It will go away."
By Trump's Fox town hall near the end of March, just 706 Americans had died from the virus and there were just under 54,000 cases. Since then, the number of Americans who have died from it has gone up 65 times.
In April alone, the number of deaths has gone up almost tenfold, from 4,780 to more than 46,000, as of Wednesday night.
Trump is now focused on reopening — without implementing a national testing plan — and even says he's encouraged and that "it's a beautiful thing."
But the reality is that deaths from the coronavirus continue to spike, Trump didn't see it coming, and without the kind of careful reopening advised by health officials, there could be the kind of "rebound" that Dr. Anthony Fauci warned about in Wednesday's briefing.
"Although I know one has the need to leapfrog over things, don't do that," Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said. "Do it in a measured way. This is a successful formula. The problem is if we don't do that, there is a likelihood that we will have a rebound. The one way not to reopen the economy is to have a rebound that we can't take care of."
The briefing in brief
Here are highlights from Wednesday's White House coronavirus task force daily briefing:
Quote of the briefing
"We win, and we win. We want to win, we always — we win. Sometimes we don't want to win, so we just go to a standstill. But that's always, that's not the way this country works."
— Trump, on the country largely being shut down
Other key coronavirus stories from NPR
Adding A Nylon Stocking Layer Could Boost Protection From Cloth Masks, Study Finds: A new study from Northeastern University finds that placing nylon stocking material over a cloth mask may significantly increase its ability to keep people safe. "It really improved the performance of all of the masks, and it brought several of them up and over the baseline mask we were using, which was a 3M surgical-type mask," said Loretta Fernandez, a professor at Northeastern.
Reminder: Are We Flattening The Curve? States Keep Watch On Coronavirus 'Doubling Times': Officials are tracking "doubling times'' as an indication of when a state's curve may be beginning to flatten. The doubling rate refers to the number of days it takes for a state to match its amount of coronavirus cases, deaths or hospitalizations. With this measurement, doubling times for New York City COVID-19 cases have gotten longer, reaching eight days, as of April 10.
READ: Trump Signs Proclamation Temporarily Suspending Immigration: President Trump officially suspended immigration to the United States on Wednesday evening for 60 days, saying it will lessen further economic strain on the country. "This will ensure that unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as our economy reopens," the president said.
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