The USA saw a 63,591 rise in COVID cases on July 19, the same day President Trump declared, during an interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News, that the virus would eventually ‘disappear.’ The interview only went downhill from there.
Watch: President Trump goes one-on-one with Chris Wallace
The USA currently stands at 4.4 million confirmed cases of Coronavirus, with more than 150,000 dead. The country saw a record one day rise of more than 75,000 cases on July 17. This is after it was assumed that the caseload peaked in April. Asked about this, Trump shrugged and attributed the high numbers to increased nation-wide testing. Trump claimed that the scale of testing outmatched any other nation, and that the USA was the ‘envy’ of the world.
The President alluded to the high number of tests again and again during the interview, even after Wallace stated that the rise in the number of testing was 37% while the cases were up by 194%. Trump’s excuse for this was that many of these cases were young people who, in his estimation, were likely to get well in a day.
The USA currently has the highest number of active cases and deaths in the world. Despite that, the President still went on record to say that the USA has the ‘best’ mortality rate in the world. Chris Wallace pulled up statistics from John Hopkins University which showed the USA having mortality rates greater than countries like The UK, but worse than Brazil and Russia, making it seventh in the world. The President then asked a White House representative to fetch statistics showing The USA as second best, but which did not even include countries like Russia. At the conclusion of this awkward and antagonistic exchange, the President resorted to his old favourite trope of blaming ‘fake news.’ He even alleged the media had referenced too many cases.
The Blame Game
Other than tooting his own horn, Trump had a lot of fingers to point. Wallace asked if Trump took responsibility for the lack of PPP, nurses and overflow in hospitals, especially in the states of Florida and California. Trump said he would take responsibility for everything as it’s his job; but swiftly shifted the blame to the Governors by saying ‘some did good, some did bad’.
While attempting to elude accountability for the rising number of cases, the President blamed China. “Excuse me, it’s all too much. There shouldn’t be one case. It came from China, they should have never let it escape but it is what it is,” he said.
His attributing of blame even stretched to The WHO: “The World Health Agency got a lot wrong, they basically did whatever China wanted them to do and we have saved almost 500 million dollars a year, which is nice.” referring to his earlier decision to pull out of The WHO.
Trump’s administration has been busy maligning Dr. Fauci, one of the lead members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and one of the world’s leading experts on infectious diseases. Earlier this month, his administration put out a list of things Fauci had got ‘wrong’. Trump reiterated the same in the interview by reiterating that Dr. Fauci had, early in the pandemic, demurred on wearing masks, and called him ‘a bit of an alarmist.’
The Trump Test
Many people have accused Trump of taking the deadly pandemic lightly. The interview added credence to those assertions, as the President seemed more interested in talking about a cognitive intelligence test than the disease claiming the lives of thousands of citizens.
Trump couldn’t stop talking about how well he did in a test to determine cognitive decline. He claimed that his rival for the Presidential election, Joe Biden, wouldn’t be able to do as well on the test. Wallace stated he had taken the same test and found it rather easy. Trump doubled-down on how difficult the test was, suggesting that Wallace would struggle to answer many of the ‘harder’ questions.
The interview kept getting more absurd. Wallace questioned Trump about his threat to veto The National Defence Authorization Act, which is supported by both Republicans and Democrats, and which contains a provision to rename army bases named after confederate leaders. Trump responded that the bases came out of two ‘beautiful’ world wars, and that re-naming them would mean letting go of that legacy.
The interview contained no softball questions, and revealed many sad truths. The New York Times reported that an advisor to the Texas Governor said “The president got bored with it” referring to the pandemic. Many moments from the interview might have come across as hilarious; but in reality, the country is still to survive a pandemic with a President who has clearly moved on from wanting to deal with it.