President Donald Trump once again pushed back against statistics showing an uptick in death rates in the United States due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic 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, who pressed Trump on figures that showed a dramatic rise in the daily death toll linked to cases of COVID-19.
During a tense exchange between the two, 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 now died across the country since the pandemic began.
.@jonathanvswan: “Oh, you’re doing death as a proportion of cases. I’m talking about death as a proportion of population. That’s where the U.S. is really bad. Much worse than South Korea, Germany, etc.”@realdonaldtrump: “You can’t do that.”Swan: “Why can’t I do that?” pic.twitter.com/MStySfkV39
— Axios (@axios) August 4, 2020
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.
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, but 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 due to the pandemic, 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 the shifts in messaging, during the interview Monday the president once again claimed the U.S. was only seeing an uptick in positive cases due to more testing.
Watch the clip above.
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