‘I feel that we’ve done a tremendous job’: Trump defends his response to the pandemic while again making inaccurate claims.
President Trump denied on Tuesday that he had downplayed the threat of the coronavirus, directly contradicting his own recorded words from earlier this year in which he admitted doing just that.
“I didn’t downplay it,” he said at a town-hall-style event in Philadelphia, which came two weeks before the first of his three debates against the Democratic nominee for president, Joseph R. Biden Jr. “I actually, in many ways, up-played it in action.”
Then Mr. Trump downplayed it again, insisting that the virus would disappear on its own, and contending that “we’re rounding the corner” of a crisis that has taken more than 195,000 lives in the United States — views radically at odds with those of public health officials.
Earlier this year, Mr. Trump told the journalist Bob Woodward privately that the virus was “deadly stuff” even as he was telling the public that it was akin to the average flu. “I wanted to always play it down,” he told Mr. Woodward in a recorded conversation that was made public in recent days. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”
On Tuesday, the president said that a vaccine could be ready in “several weeks,” despite warnings by federal officials that it will take much longer, and repeated several unsupported claims about his administration’s response to the virus.
For example, he repeated his characterization of restrictions placed on travel from China and Europe as “bans” that saved “thousands of lives.” But the restrictions only applied to foreign nationals and included exceptions, ultimately allowing 40,000 people to travel from China to the United States from the end of January to April.
Mr. Trump also said the coronavirus “goes away” even without a vaccine.
“You’ll develop herd — like a herd mentality,” he said. “It’s going to be — it’s going to be herd-developed, and that’s going to happen. That will all happen.”
Herd immunity (not mentality) depends on enough people getting sick that a broad immunity is developed against the virus, but experts said it would result in many more deaths.
The president’s 90-minute appearance at the forum broadcast by ABC was one of the few instances during this campaign season when he has faced voters who were not already his committed supporters and a rare open-ended encounter on a network other than on his favorite, Fox News. From the start of the event in the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, he seemed defensive about his handling of the coronavirus and sought to change the subject to more comfortable terrain.
With Britons fretting last week that a new six-person limit on gatherings would effectively cancel Christmas, Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled what he called Operation Moonshot, an audacious plan to test 10 million people every day for the coronavirus and restore life to normal by winter.
But by Tuesday, the reality of earthbound life in a pandemic reasserted itself: Before a second wave of the virus had even crested, unprocessed samples overwhelmed Britain’s labs and people waited in desperation for tests, while the reopening of the country’s schools and businesses hung in the balance.
“We are sleepwalking into a second surge of the pandemic without really having learned the lessons from the first,” said Dr. Rinesh Parmar, an anesthesiologist and the chairman of the Doctors’ Association U.K., an advocacy and professional group. “We are set for a perfect storm of problems heading into the winter.”
Britain has suffered more coronavirus-related deaths — 57,528, according to official records compiled from death certificates — than any other nation in Europe. But as new cases receded over the summer, Mr. Johnson’s government created incentives for people to dine out, urged them to return to their offices and dithered over whether to require face masks before mandating them in mid-July for enclosed spaces.
Crucially, experts said, the government also failed to prepare the country’s labs for an inevitable spike in demand for tests as schools reopened in September and cases of everyday coughs and colds surged along with the coronavirus.
Confirmed new cases in Britain, which had fallen below 600 a day in early July, have reached about 3,000 a day, according to a New York Times database.
A new study adds to growing evidence that people of color have been disproportionately affected by the virus.
People of color have higher rates of coronavirus infection, hospitalization and death during the pandemic than white people do, according to a large-scale analysis of electronic health record data for about 50 million patients from 399 hospitals in 21 U.S. states.
The analysis, released on Wednesday, is a joint project of the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation and Epic Health Research Network, a publication of Epic, the electronic health records data company. By providing insight into a large population across a range of states and health care systems, it builds on a growing body of research that shows people of color are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus.
The data show that while testing rates differed little by race and ethnicity, Hispanic patients were more than two and a half times as likely, and Black and Asian patients were nearly twice as likely, as white patients to test positive. Patients of color were also typically sicker than white patients when diagnosed, and were likelier to be in an inpatient setting and likelier to require oxygen or ventilation at the time of diagnosis.
Hispanic and Black people were far likelier than white people to require hospitalization. The study found that for each 10,000 people hospitalized, 30.4 were Hispanic; 24.6 were Black but just 7.4 were white. Death rates for Black and Hispanic patients were more than twice as high as for white patients.
“This analysis points to delays in testing for people of color, who are sicker and more likely to be infected when they do get tested,” Drew Altman, the president and chief executive officer of Kaiser Family Foundation, said in a statement.
The authors of the study sought to determine whether socioeconomic factors explained the disparities, and found they did not. Even after controlling for sociodemographic factors and underlying health conditions, the study found, Asian patients were 49 percent likelier than white ones to die from the virus. Hispanic patients were 30 percent likelier to be hospitalized and die compared with white patients with similar characteristics and underlying health conditions, and Black patients were 19 percent likelier to die after controlling for these factors, the research found.
India’s overall caseload surpassed five million on Tuesday, less than a month after hitting the 3 million mark.
More than 82,000 coronavirus patients have died in India, but, per capita, the country has had far fewer deaths than many others. Doctors say this reflects India’s younger and leaner population.
India reported 90,123 new cases on Tuesday, and its seven-day daily average of new cases is more than 92,000.
The country took a hard line early, placing all of its citizens under a national lockdown that was considered largely effective, and was widely obeyed. Restrictions began being lifted in May as economic pressures led its leaders to prioritize reopenings and accept the risks of surging coronavirus infections.
But the country’s public health system is severely strained, and some sick patients cannot find hospital beds.
Crowded cities, lockdown fatigue and a lack of contact tracing are contributing factors for the virus’s spread, which has reached every corner of the country of 1.3 billion people.
India’s total caseload has become the world’s second-largest, behind that of the United States. So far, a large chunk of India’s Covid-19 cases have come from five states: Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, followed by Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.
Texas is the second U.S. state to surpass 700,000 cases.
In recent days, inconsistencies and problems with Covid-19 data collection in Texas had clouded the picture of the pandemic’s trajectory in the state, prompting some residents and officials to say they could not rely on the numbers to tell them the truth. In mid-August, five metropolitan areas in South Texas had the highest rate of new coronavirus cases relative to their population, according to The Times’s data. More than 14,500 people have died in the state.
Germany agrees to take 1,500 refugees from Greece, where fires destroyed a quarantined refugee camp.
Germany agreed on Tuesday to take in more than 1,500 refugees now living in Greece, days after blazes destroyed a refugee camp on the island of Lesbos that was under a coronavirus quarantine.
Germany’s move is a challenge to other wealthy European countries that have been reluctant to help the Greek authorities resettle the 12,000 people who were left homeless when fires tore through the Moria refugee camp last week.
Tensions within the camp, Europe’s largest, had reached a boiling point when the authorities placed it under a medical lockdown after at least 35 residents tested positive for the virus. That led to protests by some residents, some of whom lit fires, leading to the camp’s destruction.
The fire left the camp’s residents, including 4,000 children, stranded among tombstones in a nearby cemetery and on rural and coastal roads. Nearly two-thirds of the migrants in the camp are from Afghanistan.
Germany said on Tuesday that it would allow 1,553 people from 408 families who have already been recognized as refugees by Greece to settle in the country. The decision followed intense debate within Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, with some officials arguing that Berlin should wait to take action until there is a joint European Union response to the crisis in Greece.
The officials feared that a unilateral move by Ms. Merkel, while showing solidarity with Greece, could create the politically unpopular impression that Germany had reopened its borders — as it did in 2015, when it accepted more than one million people from the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
In other developments around the world:
Vietnam has recovered sufficiently from its second outbreak of the virus that it will resume international flights on Friday to destinations in Asia, although not yet for tourists. After controlling its initial outbreak without any fatalities, Vietnam went nearly 100 days without a case of local transmission. But an outbreak in July in the coastal city of Danang spread throughout the country and caused 35 deaths before it was contained. Now, without a confirmed case of local transmission for two weeks, the government has lifted travel restrictions in Danang and will resume flights to China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan for Vietnamese nationals, certain workers, diplomats and investors.
Reporting was contributed by Peter Baker, Melissa Eddy, Mike Ives, Benjamin Mueller, Richard C. Paddock, Linda Qiu, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Glenn Thrush.