(CNN)Every time President Donald Trump and his political team claim great progress in the pandemic it’s a dangerous sign: things are likely about to get worse.
Forever spinning their failure in handling the crisis, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on Monday made selective claims of “significant” advances and “very encouraging” signs and celebrated “plateauing” cases in sunbelt areas that might have escaped their disasters by ignoring the President’s advice.
Their cheerleading clashed with forecasts from government health experts that 1,000 Americans a day will die from Covid-19 in coming weeks, and an alarming warning from Dr. Deborah Birx, which led Trump to effectively brand the 40-year public health servant in a tweet as “pathetic.”
The President also renewed blatantly false claims that the United States had done a better job than many other countries that are now seeing flareups of the disease that pale in comparison with the disaster in the southern United States.
In a news conference packed with dubious superlatives and gushing praise for his government’s work in fulfilling routine procurement tasks, Trump sketched a completely different reality from the one unfolding across the nation.
Perhaps the most concerning aspect of his briefing was not the massive misrepresentations but that the White House is so confined to its constantly tested Covid-19 bubble that it actually believes its own propaganda.
“We are beginning to see evidence of significant progress nationwide,” Trump said, five months into a pandemic that he initially denied, and then neglected.
“An encouraging sign. Very encouraging,” Trump said, after cherry picking data and praising governors of Florida, Arizona and Texas — who allowed the virus to sweep through their states — for doing a “tremendous job.” He went on: “The virus is receding. In hot spots across the south and west, we’ve seen slow improvements from their recent weekly peaks.”
“I think we are doing very well and I think … as well as any nation,” Trump said baselessly, given that the United States has less than 5% of the world’s population but around 25% of global deaths from Covid-19.
In an interview with Axios that aired later Monday night, when confronted with the United State’s daily death toll, Trump said, “They are dying. That’s true. And you — 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. This is a horrible plague that beset us.”
Earlier, Pence also spoke optimistically about the outbreak in southern and western states that enthusiastically embraced Trump’s demands for an early opening and were consequently hit by a deadly wave of infections.
“We are beginning to see not only plateauing but are beginning to see cases declining and emergency rooms decline,” Pence said on a call with governors.
Plateauing, after so much death and at such a high level of new infections in southern states is welcome. But it’s hardly a cause for celebration, given that infection rates would not have been so severe with proper virus management.
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