More Covid-19 True and False

Same rules apply.  You can guess who said it, and this time I have added a corporate executive in addition to politicians.  I put a lot of trust in Drs. Birx and Fauci, because of decades of experience in infectious diseases.  I don’t bother with bloggers on Facebook or Twitter.  I’ve only included the most recent statements.  In cases where I did not see a judgement by Politifact or others on the truthfulness of statements, then I added “inaccurate” or “accurate” labels based on the discussion.

1. Regarding the risks of coronavirus transmission on an airplane, “It’s as safe as an environment as you’re going to find.”

2. “Don’t forget, the cupboard was bare. The last administration left us nothing. We didn’t have ventilators, we didn’t have medical equipment, we didn’t have testing.”

3. On potential deaths: “Those models that you’re mentioning are talking about without mitigation.”

4. “The tests were broken. You saw that. We had broken tests. They left us nothing.” [note:  They refers to the Obama administration]

5. “Nancy Pelosi was out there at the end of February, talking about let’s go dancing in Chinatown in San Francisco, because she wanted to prove that there was no problem. But there was a problem. Schumer was talking in March, about there’s no problem. I banned people from coming in, in January.”

6.  “They told us, when we put on our travel ban — a very strong travel ban — there was no need to do it. ‘Don’t do it.’ They actually fought us.”

7. “There was credible information to suspect human-to-human transmission in December 2019, which should have spurred the WHO to investigate, and investigate immediately. … Through the middle of January, it parroted and publicly endorsed the idea that there was not human-to-human transmission happening despite reports and clear evidence to the contrary.”

8. Says Joe Biden has “written a letter of apology” for calling Trump’s travel restrictions from China “xenophobic.”

Answers:

  1. Mostly false:  Claim by Gary Kelly, May 3, 2020.  Southwest CEO’s boast about airplanes’ low COVID risk overlooks key concerns.  Studies show that infectious disease transmission can occur on airplanes, particularly if you are seated next to someone who is carrying an illness.  Some research suggests that airplanes’ highly effective ventilation systems make them safer than other enclosed modes of transportation, like subways.  But it is difficult to maintain social distancing on an airplane — especially compared with being at home, in an office or at a grocery store.   [My note:  There is considerably more discussion on this topic in www,politifact.org .  I’ve heard some flights are nearly empty, and if that happens to be the case, it will be much better.  Temperature checks and mandatory wearing of masks also are good measures taken by some airlines. ]
  2. Mostly False. Claim by Donald Trump, May 5, 2020.  ABC News interview.  Trump’s sweeping generalization — which he has made before — is Mostly False. The state of the Strategic National Stockpile was not where it needed to be for the pandemic, particularly with N95 masks, which were not replenished after the H1N1 outbreak in 2009. But it wasn’t bare. In November 2019, the former director of the stockpile described it as an $8 billion enterprise, with extensive holdings of many needed items.  Muir followed up on this one, asking Trump why he did not do more to address the stockpile during his three years in office. Trump blamed Democratic efforts to investigate him over Russia and Ukraine, including the impeachment trial.
  3.  False.  Claim by Donald Trump, May 5, 2020 ABC News Interview. Presented with dire outlooks for COVID-19 deaths over the summer months, Trump incorrectly said they did not take into account mitigation efforts, such as social distancing and mask requirements.  Muir asked Trump about dire COVID-19 predictions from two institutions, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The University of Washington’s updated model shows 134,000 Americans could die by August, nearly double their previous projection. Contrary to what Trump said, this model factors in mitigation efforts. “We’ve never put forward a forecast that included no mitigation,” said institute spokeswoman Amelia Apfel in an email. The other model Muir mentioned, from Johns Hopkins University, stems from an internal federal government slideshow. That document contained one slide that projected 3,000 deaths per day by June.  The information came from a model created by Justin Lessler, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Lessler told NPR that his scenarios do assume some degree of mitigation.
  4. Pants on Fire False.  Claim by Donald Trump, May 5, 2020 ABC News  Interview.  This claim, which Muir did not correct, rates Pants on Fire. COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus. There was no “bad” test to inherit for detecting a new virus.
  5. Inaccurate.  Claim by Donald Trump, May 5, 2020, ABC News interview. Note this was considered inaccurate, and not labeled in the  three categories by Politifact.   Pelosi did visit the Chinatown area in San Francisco on Feb. 24, encouraging residents to eat and shop. But she didn’t talk about people going dancing, and she didn’t say there was no problem concerning the coronavirus. “I’m here today, particularly, to say thank you to the community for the sense of family values and sense of community that they provide,” Pelosi said. “But also to say to everyone: we should come to Chinatown. Precautions have been taken by our city. We know that there is concern surrounding tourism, traveling all throughout the world, but we think it’s very safe to be in Chinatown and hope that others will come.”Pelosi, at another point, specifically stressed that people be concerned about the virus.”Prevention, prevention, prevention,” she told reporters. “We want people to be concerned and vigilant. However, we don’t want them to be afraid.”When it comes to Schumer, Trump’s wrong. Here’s Schumer, in a joint statement with Pelosi, on Feb. 27: “The United States government must do more to address the spread of the deadly coronavirus in a smart, strategic, and serious way and we stand ready to work in a bipartisan fashion in Congress and with the administration to achieve this necessary goal. Lives are at stake — this is not the time for name-calling or playing politics.” And lastly, Trump’s criticism of Schumer and Pelosi ignores some of his own statements and actions in February and March. On the same day Pelosi was touring San Francisco’s Chinatown, Trump tweeted: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA.”
  6. Inaccurate.   Claim made on numerous occasions by Donald Trump, including prepare remarks at a press conference, April 7, 2020.  Politifact did not provide rating beyond inaccurate.  These are their comments:  WHO did not recommend travel bans, but Trump magnifies the extent of the disagreement. We found no record of WHO objecting to the American policy specifically. On Jan. 30, WHO declared that COVID-19 had reached the highest level of alert, a Public Health Emergency Of International Concern. It said “all countries should be prepared for containment” and urged them to launch testing and tracing programs. In its statement, WHO said it “does not recommend any travel or trade restriction.” But it also acknowledged that countries could impose limits, saying, “Countries must inform WHO about travel measures taken, as required by the International Health Regulations.” Those regulations, first drafted in 2005 after China hid the SARS epidemic from the world, spell out what each country and bodies like WHO must do in the face of a new infectious disease. The document says that countries need to explain why a travel ban is warranted. Trump announced a ban Jan. 31, which took effect Feb. 2. The United States had company in banning entry from China. Singapore moved on Jan. 29, Italy suspended all flights Jan. 31, and Australia imposed a ban on Feb.1, to mention just a few of the more than 40 nations that acted at about the same time.Factcheck also felt Trump misused the claim of a “travel ban” on China as follows: Not a “travel ban.” At least four times in April, the president said he had imposed a “travel ban” on China or “closed the border.” But the Trump administration’s travel restrictions stopped well short of a “ban.” The policy, which took effect Feb. 2, prohibits non-U.S. citizens who have traveled to China within the previous two weeks from entering the U.S., but the new rules don’t apply to U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents and their immediate family members.

    [Note: Our borders were very open. Certainly what the news of coronavirus deaths in China created was the early returns of Americans from China.

  7. Inaccurate: Claim made by Donald Trump. Health experts say Trump is wrong about early, credible evidence of human-to-human transmission. “There were questions, but no solid confirmation,” Boston University global health researcher Davidson Hamer said. “It wasn’t until mid January that reasonable evidence began to come out.”  So, Trump is right when he points to mid January as the pivot point, but he’s off the mark about the quality of the information earlier. On Jan. 12, WHO said that “there is no clear evidence that the virus passes easily from person to person.” On Jan. 14, WHO’s lead investigator Maria Van Kerkhove told reporters that “it is possible that there is limited human-to-human transmission, potentially among families, but it is very clear right now that we have no sustained human-to-human transmission.” Van Kerkhove however warned that a wider outbreak was possible and that WHO had told hospitals around the world to take steps to prevent spreading the infection. On Jan. 19, Chinese officials confirmed human-to-human transmission.We asked the White House and the Trump campaign to explain the basis for the claim about evidence from December. We did not hear back.

    The closest match we found were reports about a doctor in Wuhan who warned his colleagues in a chat group about a disease that looked like SARS on Dec. 30. Local officials muzzled the doctor, who later died from COVID-19.  “We now have good evidence that Chinese authorities knew about the spread and were hiding it at this time,” said Ashish K. Jha, Director, Harvard Global Health Institute. “Whistleblowers and ‘rumor mongers’ among healthcare professionals were silenced. But it’s unclear how much the WHO could have possibly known about that at the time.”

    Hamer said that he might have been too trusting of what China was reporting, perhaps because the government was much more transparent than it had been in 2002 with the SARS pandemic. He was hearing from his global health colleagues at the time that “this was the real deal.” Hamer thinks WHO could have been faster.  “They took a little too long to declare this a major emergency,” Hamer said. “They waited a week to 10 days to come out and say this thing was moving quickly and was a global health concern.”  [Note: I believe the reference is to Dr. Davidson Hamer, Professor of Global Health and Medicine, Boston University].

  8. False.  Claim made by Donald Trump, Fox News virtual town hall meeting. May 3, 2020.   Without evidence, Trump claims Biden sent him apology letter over China travel ban. The Biden campaign said an apology letter to Trump “never happened.” We found no public record of any letter of apology from Biden.  Biden’s deputy campaign manager declared Biden’s support for the China restrictions in a statement to CNN on April 3, a Friday. The statement was not an apology. Biden has used the word “xenophobic” several times in reference to Trump and his actions, but never directly in reference to the ban Trump placed on travel from China.

A longer explanation of these statements and the lack of support can be found at Politifact.   When pushed, Trump goes on the offensive.  The enemies:  China, World Health Organization, the media,   and a host of states with Democratic Governors.   The attacks on the media are generally the New York Times,  Washington Post and CNN.

The enemy is really none of the above.  It is Covid-19.

Stay tuned and healthy,

Dave

Links:

Fact-checking Donald Trump’s criticism of the World Health Organization

Politifact:  Coronavirus

Washington Post Opinion: ABC News’s David Muir is no match for Trump’s falsehoods

Recent Fact check, Donald Trump:

 

 

 

 

 

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