Trump points to 'the numbers,' which don't say what he thinks they say

62% do not trust what Trump has to say about the coronavirus crisis. At this point, it's hard to imagine what more he'd have to do to sway the other 38%.
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President Donald Trump departs after speaking during the daily briefing on April 17, 2020.Jim Watson / AFP via Getty Images file
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By Steve Benen

Yesterday morning, Donald Trump turned to Twitter to promote an optimistic message: "Coronavirus numbers are looking MUCH better, going down almost everywhere." The president echoed the line a few hours later during a White House press conference.

"You know, the numbers are coming down very rapidly all throughout the country, by the way," he declared. "There may be one exception. But all throughout the country, the numbers are coming down rapidly."

It'd be great if that were true. It's not.

Cases of COVID-19 are rising in nine states, according to an analysis of state and local data by The New York Times. In 27 other states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., the Times analysis says, the growth of the virus might be slowing, but a lack of widespread testing suggests that infections are also being undercounted. Cases are decreasing in 14 states and Guam, the analysis says.

Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the Columbia University National Center for Disaster Preparedness, told NBC News, "Anybody that claims we're on a downward trajectory nationally is out of touch with reality."

He added, "It's not appropriate to say the U.S. is consistently on a downward trend at all. In some places, it might be the direct opposite of that."

Making matters slightly worse, NBC News also reported yesterday that coronavirus infection rates "are spiking to new highs in several metropolitan areas and smaller communities across the country, according to undisclosed data the White House's pandemic task force is using to track rates of infection."

In isolation, it's a problem that the president is completely wrong about coronavirus cases in his own country, but considered in context, the problem is more jarring. Trump believes the world is following the United States' lead, which is the opposite of the truth. He believes we're among the best countries on the planet for fatality rates, which is also demonstrably false.

The president also seems to believe the United States currently "leads the world in testing"; we've done more virus testing than the rest of the world combined; and any American who wants a test can now get one -- and each of these claims is ridiculous.

The latest national CNN poll found that 62% do not trust what Trump has to say about the coronavirus crisis. At this point, it's hard to imagine what more he'd have to do to sway the other 38%.