As US Death Toll Nears 90,000, Trump Says We’re “Doing Really Well”

(Plague!)

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting about the coronavirus response with Gov. Phil Murphy, D-N.J., in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, April 30, 2020, in Washington. Associated Press

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With the United States death toll from COVID-19 approaching 90,000 and former President Barack Obama criticizing the federal government’s response, there’s at least one person who thinks things are actually going quite well: Donald Trump.

On Sunday, the president tweeted, “Doing REALLY well, medically, on solving the CoronaVirus situation (Plague!). It will happen!”

It’s not entirely clear what “it” means in this context, but it seems likely that the pandemic is here to stay for the foreseeable future. There are more than 100 vaccines in development globally, and only eight have started testing in humans, according to the Wall Street Journal. Trump tweeted last week that “vaccine work is looking VERY promising, before end of year. Likewise, other solutions!” Moncef Slaoui, who’s leading the US government’s effort to develop a vaccine, said in an interview with the New York Times that “12-18 months [from when work first began] is already a very aggressive timeline” but that the president’s goal was achievable. Other government experts are more skeptical.

Trump’s Sunday tweet comes one day after the Food and Drug Administration issued emergency clearance for an at-home coronavirus testing kit, but even that positive development comes with caveats. Users would still have to send their test samples to a laboratory for diagnostic testing in order to get a result. In fact, far from solving the crisis, the administration’s testing efforts are still failing to reveal a clear picture of the pandemic’s scope. Supply shortages have hampered efforts to ramp up testing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its own numbers recently, announcing that 1.4 million people have tested positive among the more than 10 million tested. But those number differ from what individual states have found. Take California, for example, which says it’s done more than 1.3 million tests, while the CDC counted just under 925,000.

Trump’s rhetoric once again seems to be at odds with the data. And while that’s certainly not a new development, the pandemic has made it far more dangerous.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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