Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Bullhead City, Arizona, October 28, 2020 (Brendan Smialowski/AFP)
UPDATE, 1130 GMT:
Susan Bailey, the President of the American Medical Association, responds to Donald Trump’s insult that doctors are making “more money” by listing Coronavirus as cause of death instead of conditions such as heart disease or diabetes:
The suggestion that doctors — in the midst of a public health crisis — are overcounting Covid-19 patients or lying to line their pockets is a malicious, outrageous and completely misguided charge.
Rather than attacking us and lobbing baseless charges at physicians, our leaders should be following the science and urging adherence to the public health steps we know work — wearing a mask, washing hands and practicing physical distancing.
In his latest denial of the Coronavirus pandemic, Donald Trump pushes a conspiracy theory that greedy medical staff are inflating the US death toll of 229,696.
Trump told a rally in Michigan on Friday:
"Our doctors get more money if someone dies from Covid. You know that, right? I mean, our doctors are very smart people." — Trump pushes a baseless conspiracy that greedy American health care workers are overcounting coronavirus deaths pic.twitter.com/fsajGTvvN3
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 30, 2020
By mid-August, at least 625 US healthcare workers had been killed by Coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Doctors said hundreds more had not been counted.
Trump’s insult exposed a months-long disregard of medical personnel by his inner circle. In mid-April, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner told journalist Bob Woodward that Trump was “getting the country back from the doctors” as the US entered the “beginning of the comeback phase” of the pandemic: “Trump’s now back in charge. It’s not the doctors.”
Kushner spoke as Trump was demanding the “reopening” of the US with the lifting of Coronavirus measures. Two weeks later, Republican governors started the removal, leading to a second wave of the virus through the summer.
“An Entire Country on Fire”
Yesterday Trump repeated his line that people are not threatened when they contract the virus: “What happens is, you get it — if you get it, stay away, if you get it, you’re gonna get better. And then you’re gonna be immune. And it’s a whole thing, and it goes away.”
As he spoke, daily deaths passed 1,000, reaching 1,028 in 24 hours. Confirmed cases set a new daily record as they passed 9 million: they stand at 9,045,494, a rise of 99,603 on Friday.
Sixteen states set daily records for cases yesterday. Three — Tennessee, Montana, and New Mexico — set records for deaths.
More than 46,600 people are hospitalized with the virus, an increase of about 25% over the last 14 days.
But Donald Trump Jr. said on Thursday that deaths from Coronavirus are “almost nothing”, as his father mocked the wearing of masks and told an audience, “You’re going to get better.”
On Friday, the audience in Green Bay, Wisconsin — packed closely and few wearing masks, despite being in one of the worst hot spots for the virus — boosted Trump’s claims and ego, chanting, “Superman! Superman!”
Dr. Michael Osterholm, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Minnesota, summarized the scientific view:
We’re going to see much less evidence of regionalization of this virus over the course of the next several weeks. I think this is going to ultimately end up being an entire country on fire.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, warned in a conference call with state governors, “This is a broad surge across every state where [the temperature] is cooling.”
She said the pandemic will only plateau if “every single person in your states” takes wearing masks, social distancing, and hygiene seriously. People must decrease indoor gatherings with family and friends.
But Trump has ostracized Birx and the Government’s top coronavirus expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, instead adopting Dr. Scott Atlas — a neuroradiologist and Fox TV commentator who pushes “herd immunity” — as his medical confidante.
The White House Task Force now meets only once a week. Vice President Mike Pence, the chair, has not attended in more than a month.
Biden: “Stop Attacking Medics and Do Your Job”
Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden, campaigning in St. Paul, Minnesota, responded to Trump’s slur on the medics:
Did you hear what he said today? The President of the United States is accusing the medical profession of making up covid-19 deaths.
Doctors and nurses go to work every day to save lives. They do their jobs.
Donald Trump should stop attacking them and do his job.
Biden pledged to bring the Republicans and Democrats together” to pass a Coronavirus relief bill”: “I’m not going to shut down the economy, I’m going to shut down the virus.”
Last week Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked any passage of a relief bill of about $2 trillion before Election Day.