Donald Trump again showed that his problem with COVID-19’s staggering death toll in the United States is not that more than 350,000 people are dead, but that the public knows that more than 350,000 people are dead. And Trump will absolutely do his best to convince people that the death count is lower.
Sunday morning Trump paused trying to pretend that he didn’t lose the election for long enough to try to pretend that U.S. coronavirus deaths are overcounted, tweeting “The number of cases and deaths of the China Virus is far exaggerated in the United States because of @CDCgov’s ridiculous method of determination compared to other countries, many of whom report, purposely, very inaccurately and low. ‘When in doubt, call it Covid.’ Fake News!”
In reality, COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are undercounted, possibly by more than a third. But on Meet the Press Sunday morning, Dr. Anthony Fauci didn’t get into the question of undercounting. He simply affirmed that “The numbers are real.”
”We have well over 300,000 deaths,” he continued. “We're averaging 2,000 to 3,000 deaths per day. All you need to do, Chuck, is go into the trenches, go into the hospitals, go into the intensive care units and see what is happening. Those are real numbers, real people and real deaths.”
Trump responded by lashing out at Fauci for stating those facts.
Fauci is a career civil servant, not a Trump political appointee, and has served under six presidents. Trump is not responsible for elevating him except to the extent that a nation seeking sound counsel and not getting it from Trump or his political appointees has turned to Fauci as the most credible prominent person in government.
Why does Trump get no credit for his “work”? Maybe because he lies about the number of deaths and then attacks the scientist who says “The numbers are real.” Maybe because he works a lot less than he golfs.
Thousands of people are dying every day—people whose family members are forced to say goodbye over FaceTime and Zoom, people beloved and needed by their communities. Donald Trump only cares about their deaths insofar as, by becoming known, they make him look bad. And he’s fighting to overturn an election so he can keep presiding over the incompetence and contempt for life that brought us to this place.