The Trump administration triumphantly declared victory over the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, one week before the 2020 election and with COVID-19 cases surging across the country.
The lie came in a news release on a new 62-page report from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy listing what it claims are the scientific and technological accomplishments during President Donald Trump’s first term. The list includes, “ENDING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC.”
“From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the administration has taken decisive actions to engage scientists and health professionals in academia, industry, and government to understand, treat, and defeat the disease,” the release states.
The pandemic is far from over. It is raging from coast to coast, thanks in no small part to the Trump administration’s mishandled response. A recent report from Columbia University estimates that the “abject failures” of government agencies under Trump resulted in between 130,000 and 210,000 avoidable deaths attributable to COVID-19.
As of Tuesday, the disease’s U.S. fatality toll topped 226,000 and the nation is averaging more than 70,000 new cases per day.
From the beginning of the outbreak, Trump has been at war not with COVID-19, but rather COVID-19 science and data. He has repeatedly downplayed the health threat, blamed China and the World Health Organization for the pandemic, attacked the nation’s top infectious disease expert and mocked his election opponent, Democrat Joe Biden, for vowing to listen to scientists as president.
At the final presidential debate last week, he falsely claimed that America is “rounding the turn” and “learning to live with” the coronavirus pandemic ― falsehoods that he has been repeating on the campaign trail.
Among other White House officials, Tuesday’s release includes a quote from Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and adviser who has zero training or background as a scientific expert.
“Over the past four years, President Trump’s policies and investments in science and technology ensure America stands ready to solve today’s most pressing challenges and that our workforce is prepared for tomorrow’s innovations,” Ivanka Trump said. “For years to come, these achievements will guarantee the United States remains the world’s leader in research, discovery and the advancement of industries that will shape our future.”
Tuesday’s self-congratulatory release underscores that the administration has simultaneously surrendered to the pandemic while trying desperately to steer public attention away from its failure to control the spread. During an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows declared that the U.S. is “not going to control” the pandemic because it’s “contagious.”
Trump has pushed wild, unfounded conspiracy theories that the media is trying to sow fear ahead of the election and that health officials are exaggerating COVID-19 deaths because “doctors get more money and hospitals get more money.”
“The Fake News is talking about CASES, CASES, CASES,” Trump posted to Twitter on Saturday. “Media is doing everything possible to create fear prior to November 3rd.”
The White House release highlights dozens of actions across federal scientific agencies over the last four years, but notably makes no mention of the climate change and extinction crises that Trump and his team have largely ignored as they’ve led an aggressive industry-first agenda. Still, the administration boasted that its policies have given Americans a deeper understanding of our planet.
“Under President Trump’s leadership, the federal government has taken action to understand and protect our environment to ensure that the American people will have clean air, clean water, and a resilient environment for generations to come,” the release states.
UPDATE: Oct. 28 ― The White House on Wednesday walked back its claim that “ending the COVID-19 pandemic” is among the biggest scientific accomplishments of Trump’s first term in office.
Asking during a Fox News interview if the Trump administration believes the coronavirus has in fact been defeated, White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah said: “No, absolutely not.”
“I think that was poorly worded,” Farah said of the press release from Tuesday. She went on to parrot Trump’s false claim that the U.S. is “rounding the corner” on the coronavirus and acknowledge that “cases are still rising.”
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