COVID-19 has continued to ravage our nation for six months now, and for the duration of those six months, Donald Trump has lied, evaded, and dismissed the severity – and even the existence – of the crisis.
This week, Donald Trump finally changed his tune, likely due to dismal polling numbers about his handling of the pandemic. Several Republicans were quick to note his new tone on coronavirus, but no one should be fooled. Trump says a lot of things – most of them false – but his actions continue to indicate the scope and impact of his failures during the pandemic.
- On July 21, Trump held the first official coronavirus briefing since the end of April. However, he did not include any members of the White House’s coronavirus task force – not even Dr. Anthony Fauci. Instead, the briefing largely consisted of Trump repeating a handful of his favorite false talking points. While he did acknowledge the pandemic, he also referred twice to the “China virus,” continued to blame the rise of confirmed case numbers on increased testing, and said that COVID-19 will just “disappear.”
- On July 20, news broke that Trump is planning to issue a series of executive orders on issues beyond COVID-19 to try to improve public perception and shift media coverage away from his handling of the pandemic. The anticipated orders focus on hot-button election issues among his base, including a renewed effort to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
- Trump may be trying to redirect public attention away from his performance during the pandemic, but his clash with Senate Republicans over their latest coronavirus relief package was widely reported on July 21. The Trump administration objected to the $25 billion allocated to testing and contract tracing, instead aiming to “zero out the funding for testing and the nation’s top health agencies,” including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In an unusual display of breaking ranks with Trump, Republicans have begun to openly voice their frustration over Trump’s demands, particularly due to the severe shortage of testing that continues to hamper the U.S. response. On July 23, Trump said in a Fox News interview that testing is “overrated,” underscoring his seeming refusal to acknowledge the science behind the experts’ coronavirus recommendations.
- Almost two months after forcing the Republican National Convention (RNC) to relocate to Jacksonville, Florida when Charlotte, North Carolina couldn’t guarantee an in-person event, Trump announced that the Jacksonville portion of the RNC was canceled. “They said ‘Sir, we can make this work very easily,’” Trump said at a White House press briefing. “I said there’s nothing more important in our country than keeping our people safe, whether it’s from the China virus or the radical left mob.”
- This week, new data on COVID-19 infection rates among children and teenagers revealed that infection rates in that demographic are “ballooning” nationwide. California and Mississippi are now reporting that ten percent of their cases are among children; in Florida, nearly one-third of children tested there return positive results. A single Texas county reported that 85 children under age two have tested positive for COVID-19. Despite this alarming development, Trump continued to threaten to withhold federal funding from public schools in a rambling and revealing interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace on July 19.
Trump may have finally acknowledged COVID-19 from the briefing room podium this week, but he also couldn’t resist incorporating falsehoods and self-congratulation while doing so. “We’re leading the world,” he lied. But this week the U.S. surpassed four million confirmed cases of coronavirus nationwide – with a million cases having been added in only 15 days.
We must remember that Trump will only continue to lie – and despite their recent disagreements, Senate Republicans will continue to enable him. It’s on the rest of us to demand the relief and protections we need to stay safe and defend our democracy, and to hold them all accountable if they refuse.