CORONAVIRUS

Trump Tries To Recast Second Surge In COVID-19 Deaths As Achievement For U.S.

“We’re last, meaning we’re first," Trump said in an interview with Axios, referencing unclear statistics.

President Donald Trump once again pushed back against statistics showing an uptick in coronavirus death rates in the United States during an interview with Axios that aired Monday.

The president sat down for a sweeping interview with the outlet’s Jonathan Swan on July 28. Swan pressed Trump on figures that showed a recent dramatic rise in the daily death toll linked to cases of COVID-19.

From the beginning of their discussion, the president tried to downplay the number of American deaths. After talking about his television ratings and campaign rallies, Trump said he thinks the coronavirus pandemic is under control.

“How? A thousand Americans are dying a day,” Swan said.

Trump replied, “They are dying, that’s true, and you ha ... it is what it is. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t doing everything we can. It’s under control as much as you can control it.”

During another tense exchange, Swan asked Trump about the rise in average death rates that began in July as tens of thousands of Americans tested positive for the virus each day amid sweeping reopening measures around the country. Those new cases reached more than 75,000 a day on July 16, and while average daily infection rates have since begun to decline, at the time of the interview the seven-day average for reported deaths had risen to more than 1,100 per day.

Those averages continued to rise in the days before the interview aired, and more than 155,000 people have died in the U.S. since the pandemic began.

SWAN: If hospital rates were going down and deaths were going down, I’d say “terrific.” You would deserve to be praised for testing. But they’re all going up.

TRUMP: If you watch the news or read the papers, they usually talk about new cases, new cases, new cases.

SWAN: I’m talking about death.

TRUMP: Well, you look at the death, death is way down from where it was.

SWAN: It’s a thousand a day, it was two and a half thousand, it went down to 500, now it’s going up again.

TRUMP: Where it was is much higher than where it is right now. It spiked, but now it’s going down again.

SWAN: It’s going up. 

TRUMP: It’s going down in Arizona, it’s going down in Florida, it’s going down in Texas.

Florida’s death rate has actually skyrocketed in recent weeks and the state set and surpassed daily records for fatalities several times last week following the president’s interview.

Trump accurately noted that current death rates in the U.S. are not near a peak seen in April when more than 2,000 people were dying each day. The figures did fall during several weeks of shutdown measures across the country before rising again last month.

The president has consistently moved to recast bleak figures that reflect the ongoing crisis, repeatedly claiming, without evidence, that the U.S. had more cases because the country was testing more. The U.S. has seen more than 22% of the planet’s coronavirus fatalities.

Trump has been forced to acknowledge some of the impacts of the pandemic in recent weeks, canceling most of the Republican National Convention events set to take place in Florida this month and finally wearing a mask in public while urging supporters to do the same.

But despite those shifts in messaging, during the Axios interview the president once again claimed the U.S. was only seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases due to more testing.

Watch the clip above.

Liza Hearon contributed to this article.

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