President Trump has said the United States is “rounding the turn” – or “corner” or “bend” – on the coronavirus pandemic with shocking consistency over the last month and a half, a period in which average daily cases have risen precipitously.
Trump first said in a virtual Nevada tele-rally on Aug. 31 that the U.S. was “rounding the final turn” on the virus, repeating the line again at a Sep. 3 Pennsylvania rally “we are rounding that turn, and vaccines are coming along great.”
Trump gradually began saying the phrase with increasing consistency throughout September, including saying it every day between Sep. 18 and Sep. 24.
The biggest gap came when Trump contracted the virus himself at the beginning of October and briefly receded from public view, though he began saying it once again on Oct. 8, and has since said it eight of the last 9 days.
Trump repeated the line at a Florida event focused on “protecting seniors” on Friday, just one day after the Centers for Disease Control reported 63,486 new cases – the highest number of new cases in a single day since mid-August – bringing the U.S. to 8 million infections.
“I say that all the time,” Trump said of his assertion that the U.S. is “rounding the turn” on the virus and that the “light at the end of the tunnel is near,” calling those who disagree with his assessment “cynics and angry partisans and professional pessimists.”
Trump’s assessment is often based on his stated belief that a vaccine will be approved shortly and that the U.S. will be capable of distributing it to most Americans before the end of the year, even as his health officials forecast a lengthier timeline.
While nationwide cases dropped 16% month-by-month in September, they rose in 27 states and have since begun rising sharply.
Trump has readily admitted his willingness to play down the realities of the pandemic to avoid panic, even if it means concealing the truth about its severity. After telling Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward in February the virus is “deadly stuff,” Trump nonetheless told him in March, “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”
“The fact is, there has to be a calmness. You don’t want me jumping up and down, screaming, ‘There’s going to be great death’… and really causing some very, very serious problems for the country,” Trump said at a briefing in September.
“We have not treated Americans as adults, who understand truth, sacrifice and responsibility,” former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Trump ally who tested positive for the virus following multiple maskless trips to the White House, said Friday.
66%. That’s the share of Americans who disapprove of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, according to an AP-NORC poll of 1,121 U.S. adults released Thursday. Just 23% of Americans polled said they trust information about Trump’s health given by the White House a great deal or quite a bit, while 19% said they trust it a moderate amount and 57% said they trust it only a little or not at all.
What To Watch For
While Trump is likely aiming to boost his electoral standing by casting the pandemic as functionally over, it seems to have had the opposite effect. He trails former Vice President Joe Biden by 9 points in the RealClearPolitics average with just three weeks to go until the election and millions of votes already cast. AP-NORC found Biden is trusted over Trump by a wide margin on coronavirus – 52% to 28% – while 67% of Americans in a Gallup poll said coronavirus is among the most important issues in the election.