Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday morning to lash out at presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden over handling of the Swine Flu pandemic in 2009. He called the Obama administration’s managing of the crisis “a total disaster,” and pointed to polling as evidence. To date, COVID-19 has killed about 8 times as many Americans in a few months as the 2009 Swine Flu did in a year.
Trump has been campaigning to discredit his presumptive 2020 election opponent. Tuesday morning, this included a video mocking the death of Joe Biden’s campaign, and a tweet that seemed calculated to compare the Trump administration’s COVID-19 response to the effects of the Swine Flu pandemic.
However, the CDC’s numbers paint a different story. The Center for Disease Control’s final count, established in 2011, for the 2009 Swine Flu pandemic, are that between April 2009 and April 2010, there were 12,469 deaths from the disease.
By comparison, the current death count for COVID-19 (as of the end of day May 25, 2020 — about five months in) is 97,669.
That’s nearly 8 times as many deaths, in less than half the time span.
Trump regularly lauds his own administration’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic, though according to Washington Post, epidemiologists estimate that about 90% of all U.S. COVID-19 deaths could have been cicrumvented if this administration hadn’t delayed action.
As for polling, and Biden’s role in the Obama administration’s pandemic response, Politico addressed both of these when Trump made similar claims previously.
First, Biden wasn’t in charge of the pandemic response. Department heads and Homeland Security were regularly named as leading efforts. Further, the fact-checkers found that the public’s confidence in the administration’s response was around 67% — one of the highest rates on record, rather than “terrible,” as Trump currently claims. Meanwhile, a Pew Research study published earlier this month shows that public perception of Trump’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is shifting to the negative. In almost every group surveyed, including white evangelicals and Catholics, more viewed Trump’s response as ‘fair’ or ‘poor,’ and fewer rated his response as ‘good’ or ‘excellent,’ compared to the same polling in March.
Trump has been criticized this week for taking the time to go golfing as the U.S. pandemic death toll approaches 100k. He has been responding to this, tweeting to complain about the criticism and to assert that he’s getting “great reviews” (but also “no credit”) for handling the crisis so well. However, the comparison to Swine Flu, and particularly the effort to pin these deaths on Biden, doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.
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Steph Bazzle reports on social issues and religion for Hill Reporter. She focuses on stories that speak to everyone's right to practice what they believe in and receive the support of their communities and government officials. You can reach her at Steph@HillReporter.com