President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting about the coronavirus response with Gov. Phil Murphy, D-N.J., in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, April 30, 2020, in Washington. Associated Press
For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones’ newsletters.With the United States death toll from COVID-19 approaching 90,000 and former President Barack Obama criticizing the federal government’s response, there’s at least one person who thinks things are actually going quite well: Donald Trump.
On Sunday, the president tweeted, “Doing REALLY well, medically, on solving the CoronaVirus situation (Plague!). It will happen!”
Doing REALLY well, medically, on solving the CoronaVirus situation (Plague!). It will happen!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 17, 2020
It’s not entirely clear what “it” means in this context, but it seems likely that the pandemic is here to stay for the foreseeable future. There are more than 100 vaccines in development globally, and only eight have started testing in humans, according to the Wall Street Journal. Trump tweeted last week that “vaccine work is looking VERY promising, before end of year. Likewise, other solutions!” Moncef Slaoui, who’s leading the US government’s effort to develop a vaccine, said in an interview with the New York Times that “12-18 months [from when work first began] is already a very aggressive timeline” but that the president’s goal was achievable. Other government experts are more skeptical.
Trump’s Sunday tweet comes one day after the Food and Drug Administration issued emergency clearance for an at-home coronavirus testing kit, but even that positive development comes with caveats. Users would still have to send their test samples to a laboratory for diagnostic testing in order to get a result. In fact, far from solving the crisis, the administration’s testing efforts are still failing to reveal a clear picture of the pandemic’s scope. Supply shortages have hampered efforts to ramp up testing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its own numbers recently, announcing that 1.4 million people have tested positive among the more than 10 million tested. But those number differ from what individual states have found. Take California, for example, which says it’s done more than 1.3 million tests, while the CDC counted just under 925,000.
Trump’s rhetoric once again seems to be at odds with the data. And while that’s certainly not a new development, the pandemic has made it far more dangerous.