Trump believes coronavirus is 'dying out' and Americans are wearing masks to show their disapproval of him
Experts fear this could send mixed signals and worsen the crisis at a time when the southern and western US are seeing an uptick in new cases
Trivializing the Covid-19 situation, President Donald Trump said the new coronavirus was "dying out". He labeled the White House's response to the crisis a success in a recent interview. But the reality tells a far different story: the US still leads the world in the number of cases and deaths. New hotspots are emerging across the country, and the pandemic continues to wreak havoc.
Health experts are worried that Trump's messages could send the wrong signal to Americans. In a recent interview, he reportedly called coronavirus testing overrated, adding that the numbers made the country look bad.
He told the Wall Street Journal that people used protective face masks to show their disapproval of him. "They put their finger on the masks, and they take them off, and then they start touching their eyes and touching their nose and their mouth," the president said. And then they don't know how they caught it?
While mishandling masks is a concern, people can reduce their chances of getting infected by maintaining hand hygiene. Both the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) have recommended face coverings in crowded settings.
Trump said he created the greatest testing machine in history. "If we stop testing right now, we'd have very few cases, actually," the president said during a roundtable event for seniors. So far, the US has confirmed more than 2.1 million infections and more than 118k deaths. Countries like South Korea and Germany were able to control the virus due to aggressive coronavirus screening.
The southern and western US has recorded an uptick in cases. According to NBC News, 23 states and territories are witnessing a 25% higher increase in new Covid-19 infections in the last two weeks.
On Saturday, Trump is expected to address a rally in an indoor stadium in Tulsa, despite the risk of creating superspreader events. In response, the President said the news media was "trying to Covid Shame us on our big Rallies", dismissing concerns raised by health experts and politicians.
Rep. Donna Shalala, who served as health secretary during the Clinton administration, hopes that Americans listen to health experts. “The president of the United States is dangerous to the health of the people of my district because he’s giving out misinformation and false hope. For those that believe him, they’re putting themselves and their families at risk," she told STAT.
The President's statements are at odds with that of experts, and this has created confusion among the public. “The science behind how people process public warnings in a crisis supports this: You have to have people speaking with one voice,” said Monica Schoch-Spana, a medical anthropologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “You need a chorus.”
“It sends a mixed message, which is confusing, particularly because while many people will get infected, most will not get severely sick, so it’s easy to say this won’t happen to me,” Sara Bleich, a professor of public health policy at Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health, told STAT. “And it’s that sort of attitude that will keep us in this situation for a very long time.”