As coronavirus infections continue to surge nationwide, President Donald Trump repeated his unsubstantiated claim that the pathogen will simply “disappear” one day.
During an interview with “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace suggested Trump had made a mistake when he stated in January and February that the virus had largely been contained.
On Feb. 10, Trump said the virus would “miraculously” go away by April.
“It’s going to disappear,” the president said later that month. “One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”
Meanwhile, his administration’s top public health officials were sounding the alarm about the virus, which they warned would likely have devastating impacts on American lives for months to come.
As of Sunday, the U.S. is leading the world in known coronavirus infections and deaths, with over 3.7 million cases and 140,000 deaths recorded nationwide, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
But Trump stood by his comments during his interview with Wallace.
“I’ll be right eventually,” the president said. “You know, I said, it’s going to disappear. I’ll say it again, it’s going to disappear. And I’ll be right.”
Asked if such a statement, which has been debunked by many scientists, discredits him, Trump said he didn’t think so.
“You know why it doesn’t discredit me? Because I’ve been right probably more than anybody else,” Trump said.
During the wide-ranging ― and at times, testy ― exchange with Wallace, Trump threatened once again to cut federal funding to schools that don’t fully reopen in the fall due to the coronavirus.
“Schools have to open,” Trump said. “Young people have to go to school. And there’s problems when you don’t go to school, too. And there’s going to be a funding problem. ... We’re not going to give them money if they’re not going to school, if they don’t open their schools.”
As Wallace pointed out, federal funding makes up roughly 10% of school districts’ budgets nationwide. Local property and sales taxes account for much of the educational budgets.
“Do you know where the money goes? It goes overwhelmingly to disadvantaged kids and children with disabilities,” Wallace said. “Why wouldn’t you send more money so the schools would be safer?”
“Let the schools open,” Trump responded, avoiding the question and pointing to the relatively low rates of death among children who contract the virus.
As schools grapple with whether to reopen fully, partially or not at all in the fall, public health experts have warned that the virus could spread rapidly if in-person instruction resumes in areas that continue to have high rates of infections.
Though coronavirus-linked deaths in children are rare, the long-term impacts of the virus are still unknown. In rare cases, an inflammatory disease similar to Kawasaki’s Disease has appeared in some children who have tested positive for the coronavirus.
A new study from South Korea found that children ages 10 and older are just as likely as adults to spread the coronavirus ― a finding that could impact how schools reopen in states like Florida, where almost one-third of children who are tested for the virus are confirmed to have it.
On his relationship with Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert on the White House’s coronavirus task force, Trump told Wallace that it was “very good.”
“I spoke to him yesterday at length,” the president said.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said last week that he hadn’t briefed Trump on the coronavirus in at least two months.
Fauci’s office did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
Members of Trump’s reelection campaign, as well as Trump’s top trade adviser Peter Navarro, have spoken out against Fauci in recent weeks, claiming that he is leaking information to the press and that he’s been wrong about the virus.
Asked why his campaign is trying to discredit Fauci, Trump claimed it isn’t before taking several jabs at the scientist.
“Look, Dr. Fauci said don’t wear a mask. Dr. Fauci told me not to ban China,” the president said. “Dr. Fauci’s made some mistakes. ... He’s a little bit of an alarmist. That’s OK.”