Coronavirus

White House Says 'President Trump's Coronavirus Response Has Saved Over 2 Million Lives'

That claim is wildly implausible and contradicted by the president's suggestion that COVID-19 was never much of a threat.

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Yesterday the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a press release that lists "ENDING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC" as one of the Trump administration's "accomplishments." The reaction from anti-Trump news outlets was predictable.

"White House lists ending Covid-19 pandemic as an accomplishment despite cases spiking to record levels," CNN said. "U.S. reports more than 500,000 cases in a week, a record, as the Trump administration says it ended the pandemic," The New York Times reported.

Gotcha headlines like these strike me as overly literal readings of routine political puffery. That "ending the COVID-19 pandemic" was meant to be aspirational rather than a description of current reality is clear from the press release's single sentence of elaboration: "From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Administration has taken decisive actions to engage scientists and health professionals in academia, industry, and government to understand, treat, and defeat the disease."

If Joe Biden is elected president and fails to "lift every voice," restore "the soul of the nation," "secure environmental justice," "revitalize Main Street," "end violence against women," "end our gun violence epidemic," "end the opioid crisis," "ensure the future is 'Made in America,'" and "restore trust, transparency, common purpose, and accountability to our government," will CNN and the Times count those as broken promises? Probably not.

Still, there is no denying that Donald Trump is all over the place when it comes to describing the COVID-19 pandemic and his strategy for dealing with it. The president has embraced blatantly contradictory messages unified only by his desire to make himself look good.

A White House "fact sheet" posted yesterday asserts that "President Trump's Coronavirus Response Has Saved Over 2 Million Lives"—a claim that relies on an utterly unrealistic worst-case scenario that the administration promoted last spring. Six months later, Trump was retweeting outlandish claims that COVID-19 had killed a "minuscule" number of Americans: about 9,000, compared to the official death toll of about 187,000 at the time. Although Trump may have thought slashing the number of deaths by 95 percent reflected well on his policies, the implication was that he could not possibly take credit for saving millions of lives, because COVID-19 never posed much of a threat to begin with.

During his debate with Biden last week, Trump reverted to the position he took at the end of March. "As you know, 2.2 million people, modeled out, were expected to die," he said. "We closed up the greatest economy in the world in order to fight this horrible disease." That we was suspect, since it was governors, not the president, who decided to fight COVID-19 with sweeping social and economic restrictions. Nevertheless, Trump was clearly suggesting that lockdowns had reduced the death toll.

Nonsense, the White House "fact sheet" says: "Lockdowns fail to eliminate the virus and are causing irreparable harm to families and children, especially the working class and people with limited resources. Lockdowns have seen cancer cases and other serious illnesses not being diagnosed on time and an increase in drug overdoses and suicides. Due to school shutdowns, children are falling behind in math, reading and other subjects, and have lost access to important support services."

While all of that is true, the White House, unlike Trump during last week's debate, is clearly not crediting lockdowns with saving those 2 million imaginary lives. What is its current explanation? The "fact sheet" cites these examples of Trump's "decisive action":

President Trump has deployed point of care testing equipment, millions of rapid tests, and critical PPE to nursing homes to help protect our seniors.

The Administration also put in place safety measures like visitation restrictions, mandated staff testing, and required reporting of cases at certain senior facilities.

The Trump Administration mobilized extra beds and personnel to help prevent hospital overcrowding and has deployed medical supplies to aid healthcare workers on the frontlines.

The administration's rollout of virus tests was a complete disaster, depriving policy makers of the information they needed to weigh the costs and benefits of proposed interventions (including lockdowns) and making it impossible to curtail the epidemic through isolation, quarantine, and contact tracing. The rest of the items on the White House list seem like pretty weak tea, as does Trump's frequent boast that he restricted travel from China. That happened on February 2, four days before the first known COVID-19 death in the United States, which involved a middle-aged woman in Santa Clara County, California, who seems to have caught the virus through local transmission, which may have happened weeks earlier.

The "fact sheet" does include some actual facts. According to the "best estimates" from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it notes, COVID-19's infection fatality rate (deaths as a share of all infections) is very low among relatively young Americans: 0.003 percent among people 19 or younger, 0.02 percent for 20-to-49-year-olds, and 0.5 percent for 50-to-69-year-olds, compared to 5.4 percent among people in their 70s. I'm not sure Trump can take credit for that.

The White House also notes that "the United States has among the lowest case fatality rates of any major country." Depending on how you define major, that is more or less true: The U.S. CFR (deaths as a share of confirmed cases), which has fallen dramatically since mid-May, is currently about 2.6 percent, compared to 6.9 percent in Italy, 5.2 percent in China, 5 percent in the U.K., 3.2 percent in Spain, 3 percent in France, 2.2 percent in Germany, and 1.8 percent in Japan.

Since the case fatality rate is based on confirmed infections, expanding virus tests to include younger, healthier people with mild-to-nonexistent symptoms—as the U.S. has been doing in recent months—brings the rate down. But with the exception of Germany and the partial exception of Japan (which initially had a higher CFR than the U.S.), the U.S. CFR has always been lower than the rates in those other countries, which may partly reflect differences in age demographics or health care. It is not clear to what extent differences in polices—let alone policies championed by the Trump administration—explain international variations in the case fatality rate, which also varies widely across the United States.

Wider testing tends to reduce the CFR, which makes the president look better. But Trump has frequently complained that wider testing, which the White House touts as one of his administration's major accomplishments, makes him look worse. The White House "fact sheet" likewise bemoans "the media's fixation on case numbers," which it says obscures progress in reducing daily deaths.

The White House has a point. Since mid-September, the seven-day average of newly confirmed cases has risen sharply in the United States (and in Europe). Yesterday, according to Worldometer's numbers, that average was nearly 73,000, more than double the number on September 12 and a new record. Yet the weekly average of daily deaths so far has risen only modestly (from 704 on October 17 to 842 yesterday) and is still 63 percent lower than the peak on April 21.

Given the lag between laboratory confirmation and death, daily fatalities probably will continue to rise during the next few weeks. But judging from the experience with this summer's COVID-19 spike, the increase in deaths won't be nearly as big as the increase in cases, let alone as big as Biden predicts (a fivefold rise by late November). COVID-19 looks less lethal now for the same reasons the CFR is falling: a younger, healthier mix of patients, possibly combined with better treatments. But again, the Trump administration has not made a very plausible case that the president is responsible for that development.

NEXT: Need Proof That Encryption Backdoors Lead to Hacking? It Happened to Our Own Government.

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  1. It’s actually a really good claim to make, because debunking it requires admitting in great detail that the president was right and this virus is not a big deal. Either the original horrible models that justified the insane lockdowns were accurate and Trump is the savior of America, or the insane lockdowns were based on faulty models and never justified in which case Trump was right all along. Win/Win.

    1. 100% it’s dumb and it’s throwing the worst of the doomer numbers right in their face. Was Jacob not around in April for where the messaging was from the mainstream media and pretty much everyone?

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      2. This is the salient take. It is hippocricy in the extreme to say that Trump cannot lay claim to the higher doom and gloom estimates after the entire media ran with those numbers as the “settled science” for the entire spring and even into the summer.

        Jake Tapper, Brian Stelter… all of them accused Trump of being a mass murderer on the scale of Hitler for killing over 2 million Americans. If Trump had to sit there and take those ridiculous proclamations from the left, then they have to take it when he shoves them right back where they came from.

        The “have my cake and eat it too” on this is rich. They get to snark about how terrible, evil and anti science he is when the ludicrous prediction comes out… and then they get to say the same thing when the prediction turns out to be off by an order of magnitude. Totally a “heads I win, tails you lose” scenario.

    3. His claim that he saved 2 million people is no less ridiculous that the left claiming that the 230,000 deaths are directly his fault. They are based on the exact same amount of actual science.

      1. The point is that BOTH statements ARE ridiculous, but the left is trying to have it both ways.

        1. So is the White House and so are you. Own the fact that a reduced response will result in more cases/fatalities. Isn’t that what everyone on the right is saying: That we can’t overreact and kill the economy? Well there are consequences in lives lost to a measured approach. It’s terrible optics, but it’s reality and the White House can’t have it both ways.

      2. Back in March the media was saying 200k dead was a best case scenario if we did everything perfectly.

        https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/dr-deborah-birx-predicts-200-000-deaths-if-we-do-n1171876

        Now 200k is the apocalypse and proof Orange Hitler ruins everything. Every day the New York Times must thank Science that it’s readers have memories as long as goldfish.

        1. That was not the media saying it, it was Trump’s crony.

          1. That was not the media saying it, it was Trump’s crony. scientist / expert/ doctor.

          2. crony

            Until she pees on Trump publicly and then she becomes Jeff’s most trusted civil servant and top scientist.

            You’re nothing if not predictable.

      3. Yes, exactly. I wonder if Mr. Sullum has thought about a job with CNN. I mean, Reason is great but CNN might be a better fit…

    4. No it’s not a good claim. It’s a totally retarded claim that is self-contradictory. If the rampant spread of the virus is not Trump’s fault, because we are powerless to stop it, then how the fuck can he take any credit for trying to limit its spread?

      1. Shockingly unexpected take from Chipper, and as usual misses the point.

        Think about it harder, champ, remembering that the idea that Trump killed 200k is an enormously important talking point; “If the rampant spread of the virus is not Trump’s fault… then how the fuck can he take any credit”.

      2. If he can’t take credit for “saving” 2m people, how is it his fault 230k have died with it? That’s the point.

        I thought you were smarter than this.

    5. The virus IS a big deal. 230K people have died. For comparison, flu killed 34,200 people (source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2020/04/30/fact-check-cdc-still-tracking-flu-deaths-2019-20-typical/3044888001/)
      Since we are in the middle of renewed Covid wave, saying that Covid has killed 8 x more people than flu is a safe bet. However, the president could not have done much. The onus is on the governors. Cuomo was very grateful when Trump sent him equipment, doctors and respirators. However, the decision to force nursing homes to take Covid patients was Cuomo’s own, POTUS had nothing to do with that. We are all talking about the president’s response to Covid. There is not much that the prez can do. Granted, this particular POTUS was making fun of Covid and saying that it was only as dangerous as a normal flu, but the onus is still on the states.

      1. KUngflu is NOT a big deal. Is has killed far less than 200,000 Americans. Not everyone who died while infected was actually killed by the virus and were high risk to die this year from their comorbidities.

        650,000 Americans die every year of heart disease.

        1. I’d be curious to know what the methodology for determining who dies of the flu is.

    6. Yup. More “n”th D Chess from Trump.

      Trump dares Lefties to challenge his claim of saving 2 million Americans. It would absolutely mean that this is a SARS virus that actually is no big deal with less than 1% death rate from a 10% infection rate.

    7. yeah, Trump isn’t the one who projected 2 million deaths.

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  3. Given the lag between laboratory confirmation and death,…..
    I call bullshit. Everyone knows the coof means instant death.

    1. https://youtu.be/LRSjKfvm368

      It’s true. I saw this happen in a grocery store to a man that had been in perfectly good health just minutes before. He refused to put on any kind of life saving face covering. Here’s the video I took with my cellphone camera. Wear the damn mask unless you want this to happen to you.

    2. It even gives you cancer or heart failure or some other disease to make you die.

      1. It will crash your motorcycle!

  4. A White House “fact sheet” posted yesterday asserts that “President Trump’s Coronavirus Response Has Saved Over 2 Million Lives”—a claim that relies on an utterly unrealistic worst-case scenario that the administration promoted last spring. Six months later, Trump was retweeting outlandish claims that COVID-19 had killed a “minuscule” number of Americans: about 9,000, compared to the official death toll of about 187,000 at the time. Although Trump may have thought slashing the number of deaths by 95 percent reflected well on his policies, the implication was that he could not possibly take credit for saving millions of lives, because COVID-19 never posed much of a threat to begin with.

    All we heard from the journo’s and twitter and the imperial college was this was going to(could) kill at least a million people. Deborah Birx was on record saying best case 200k if we did everything right. This is a claim that is being deployed against the democrats who are saying if Clinton or Joe was in charge we’d have 0 deaths as all the deaths are on trumps hands. This is dumb political theater on both sides but the audacity of the fucking doomers and lockdowners throwing this in his face is just a bridge too far to me.

    1. Yeah, Sullum is ignoring what the REAL worst case numbers were.

      1. Those “worst case numbers” were never real. Those were the mathematical models which were egregiously wrong, as Sweden has proven.

  5. “The report, which warned that an uncontrolled spread of the disease could cause as many as 510,000 deaths in Britain, triggered a sudden shift in the government’s comparatively relaxed response to the virus. American officials said the report, which projected up to 2.2 million deaths in the United States from such a spread, also influenced the White House to strengthen its measures to isolate members of the public.”

    Trump is right.

  6. White House lists ending Covid-19 pandemic as an accomplishment despite cases spiking to record levels,” CNN said. “U.S. reports more than 500,000 cases in a week, a record, as the Trump administration says it ended the pandemic,” The New York Times reported.

    Define “cases”.

    I thought so.

    1. Whatever number seems right at the time of any given report, plus or minus an occasional motorcycle accident or shooting.

  7. Seriously Jacob I don’t remember Reason being out on the front lines calling out these obviously bullshit numbers fake back in April when they were ambling along with the rest of the media as locking yourself away, ordering take out and netflixing and chilling was the equivalent of storming normandy. Get out of here with this bs.

    1. Easy to be on the right side now. I’ll never forget how easily you people thought it was a good idea to not loudly and vociferously defend civil liberties when it was scary and hard.

      1. I’m willing to admit I was wrong on this one. I thought the shut downs would actually be a week or two. I was part of the problem in getting this ball rolling.

        1. It seems many others actually want to be in a state of perpetual fear. Personally, I’d recommend binging some horror movies instead.

  8. Joe Biden is a crook.

    1. The left is criminal.

    2. Vote Biden, don’t let Hunter end up on the food stamps!

  9. Playing this game again, huh?

    If it was plausible enough to shut down the country, it is plausible enough for Trump to take credit for preventing the disaster.

    You cannot have it both ways.

    Either admit the fearmongering bullshit was a false bill of goods, or give Trump his credit.

    Pick.

  10. It’s a ridiculous claim, but I think people are right that it puts the doomers in an awkward position.
    I think Trump has handled this well in that he has not pushed for a national policy and has mostly tried to reassure people that it isn’t the end of the world. He has done less well in not taking a consistent position against lockdowns and forced business closures and other unreasonable social restrictions

  11. This year has been an epic cripple fight.

    I think we are all dumber than when we started.

  12. COVID has been a re-enactment of the global warming debates.

    Unmitigated alarmism with no one knowing enough to even begin a conversation about cost-benefit.

    Suddenly everyone is an expert on epidemiology and economics, but with none of the attention span to actually map out the implications of a preferred strategy.

    How did “flatten the curve” transmogrify into “no new cases”?

    1. The same way that “let’s do a bump” turns into a stint at rehab.

    2. except COVID is an actual crisis

  13. Oh ffs, stop covering for this embarrassment of an administration. They fucked up. The least they could do is own it but even that’s too much.

    1. Trump’s policies saved millions of lives; the lives we were told would be lost if “something” was not done. Something was done. Lives were saved.

      Give credit where credit it due, or admit it was all bullshit.

      1. Or do both!

    2. How did they fuck it up?

      1. Exactly.
        Come on Jeff. Explain yourself.

    3. Ah, well there is the rub. They didn’t mess up. US rates are comparable to other developed western countries and without NYC(which the feds had no control over) the national numbers would be better then most western countries.

      There is no ‘failure’ to point to. Testing? yes, slow to start, typical of every government agency, but now world-leading. its absurd to blame Trump for the FDA and CDC being bureacratic messes.
      Flight restrictions? Trump was pilloried for the early restrictions and called a xenophobe.
      Medical response? Remember those hospital ships deployed in record time. The ventilator distribution, etc. Everyone seems to forget the early actions
      Supply chain? The Pence-led task force was heavily involved in securing PPE stocks and streamlining the distribution/manufacture to all regional medical centers/states. The media hates to report on this, but it was very impactful early on. And Trump was being blamed for not using federal control, and then being blamed for some sort of fascist heavy handed overreach by preventing 3M from exporting PPE outside of the task force control.

      Hindsight can always point to things done wrong, but there is very little true failure from Trumps administration on this. They did a passible job and no clear balls dropped.

      No different really from when Bush was subjected to endless criticism over Katrina failures that were 99% due to local/state issues. like how the major delayed evacuation and the governor refused to allow federal engagement

      1. without NYC(which the feds had no control over) the national numbers would be better then most western countries.

        This hit the international centers first and harder as a rule, and at this point it’s basically accepted that there was community spread of COVID back in February, well before anyone was really testing for it.

        So, toss out NYC, London, Paris, Brussels, and the other early adopters and see how the cases stack up.

      2. You left out the emergency supply of ventilators that we had on hand for just such an emergency. The ones the Obama administration used up and did not replenish. Ooops.

        1. To be fair, they’ve figured out that they were basically killing patients using the ventilators, but that doesn’t let Barak off the hook.

    4. More Trump “n”th D chess.

  14. We have 2 weeks to flatten the curve.

    1. A flat curve is always 2 weeks away.

    2. they never said which 2 weeks were the important ones.

  15. Your suggestion that the Trump Campaign’s claim is standard political BS would be reasonable if you applied it fairly. I did not see the same standard applied when you suggest that President Obama lied about keeping you doctor in the ACA and that Joe Biden repeated that lie.

    1. Trump’s making grand claims about past events relative to campaign talking points is not the same thing as Obama lying to the American people to get them to bend over for ACA
      The first is hyperbole. The second is a con.

      And we can ignore Biden because he doesn’t know what he says one minute to the next.
      And he’s a corrupt POS, with more evidence found by Rudy Giulini’s spare time then 17 million dollars, many months of work and team of lawyers could find about Trump

      1. We can’t ignore Basement Bunker Biden, because he is the trojan horse that is going to (maybe) get the first openly socialist president
        into the White House. She will also be the first woman elected to the White House. But, sorry Tony, it will not be “Her”.

      2. 17 million dollars?
        You’re off by a factor of at least two.

    2. Wait, your standard for Democrat truth telling is left leaning Politifact’s lie of the year? Why does this not surprise me.

    3. I did not see the same standard

      You only want the same standard because you are blinded by prejudice. The situations are not remotely similar. Obama’s team wrote the damn ACA. His advisors knew what he said was a lie and allowed Biden to repeat it.

    4. ACA is planned legislation. COVID-19 is a new unpredictable pandemic. Your suggestion that Obama deserves the same leeway for inaccurate ACA predictions is a particularly smelly turd of false equivalence.

  16. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/dr-deborah-birx-predicts-200-000-deaths-if-we-do-n1171876

    “Birx said the projections by Dr. Anthony Fauci that U.S. deaths could range from 1.6 million to 2.2 million is a worst case scenario if the country did “nothing” to contain the outbreak, but said even “if we do things almost perfectly,” she still predicts up to 200,000 U.S. deaths.”

    The Trump campaign is justifiably using the information reported by the leading experts and media earlier this year. You can’t have it both ways, Jacob, and the ridiculous constant goal post moving to score political points has made the entire health industry, media industry and DNC look like the corrupt hacks that they are.

    1. So, we are just short of perfect, I guess. Seems like a win.

      1. Well, according to what I hear, we’re doing everything IMPERFECTLY, so the fact that we only have 200,000 some deaths– which is probably an order of magnitude high on the overcount… tells us… what, that had we put a little effort into it, Fauci’s estimate was somewhere in the range of stupid and batshit insane.

        1. Fauci’s estimate was somewhere in the range of stupid and batshit insane.

          But he is a science expert that we are supposed to listen to and follow!

  17. I would grant that the numbers are implausible, but that means they were implausible back in March when they were touted as justifying all kinds of authoritarian diktats. You do not get to make that retroactive because you do not like Trump crowing about it.

  18. Reason backtracking their earlier claims. Memory hole that works wonders.

    1. Could it be that they changed their position based on available information? Not sure which claims you are talking about.

    2. If you establish a number as a baseline, the person being held responsible gets to claim improvements to that baseline. The thing is not to grossly overestimate the baseline, but that would not serve the initial purpose of terrifying the public into submission.

  19. 4d chess. It’s a shame no one will give this guy his due- he’s brilliant at exposing hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance by baiting the press with what, on the surface, appear to be ridiculous statements. But it’s true, the media and the “experts” have claimed that if nothing was done, we would see millions of covid deaths and that Trump’s response was not nearly sufficient. Therefore, we should have at LEAST a million deaths due to covid now… right? If not, then both of those statements cannot be true- either the virus was not nearly as dangerous as first claimed OR the virus was dangerous, Trump’s response was sufficient and he is responsible for saving those lives. Which is it?

    1. The only reason we don’t have 2.2 million dead from covid is that 300 million were already dead from gun violence last year.

    2. +10000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

  20. a claim that relies on an utterly unrealistic worst-case scenario that the administration promoted last spring.

    So by “administration” you mean the entire epidemic response apparatus and media hysterics? The very people his critics now claim speak the gospel?

    1. The entire journo class does this bait and switch. The administration gets the blame and the civil service gets the credit.

      1. Right. The CDC fucks up testing and approvals. Not only do they blame Trump but they also hero-worship the CDC.

        Cuomo kills ~10k people with his order that all nursing homes must accept covid patients. Not only do they blame Trump they also hero-worship Cuomo. This one is particularly amusing for Tony who froths over Trump on this very issue and wanted Cuomo to replace Biden. They don’t give a shit about dead Americans.

        It just proves the left writes their version of the story before anything happens. In their worldview reality is irrelevant.

        1. Reality is not irrelevant, it is an enemy that must be actively resisted

          1. Reality is a crutch for people, who can’t handle drugs.

        2. It kinda feels like complaining about the biased MSM for the millionth time ….

          But holy shit It really is incredible that they let the CDC degrade into being C- chemlab 101 students over the course of decades and they tell themselves that it’s Trump’s fault.

          1. The CDC was focused on obesity, smoking, and guns because there was more money in it. The left prioritizes controlling people’s choices so the CDC couldn’t manage its actual responsibilities.

        3. Additionally on NY, the official NY totals have some thirty odd thousand deaths, with six and a half thousand in nursing homes. Less than 20% of the official total.

          Every other state has at least 45% of their deaths from nursing homes, and up to nearly 70% in the highest states.

          Except New York.

          They have 18%. 1/3 of the lower bound.

          Hmmmmm……….

          That is a really, really suspicious number. How could sending people with covid into the nursing homes result in a 75% reduction in the number of nursing home deaths?

          Yet, nobody has asked. Nobody has tried to get to the bottom of it. No reporters are hounding Cuomo for an explanation of those inexplicable numbers.

          1. It’s because Cuomo had them change how they count nursing home deaths. If they go critical and are transported to a hospital and die there 2 hours later, voila! Not a nursing home death.

  21. Where exactly in the Constitution does it grant the POTUS the authority to deal with pandemics?

    1. Both the commerce clause, and the general welfare clause.
      Same place a right to privacy, which includes killing babies, is.

      1. The commerce clause applies to Congress and the general welfare clause is limited to the enumerated powers. Even if a fetus were to have full rights it still wouldn’t have a right to the propriety use of someone else’s uterus. That’s called slavery and the idea of having the government use force to make it happen is anathema to the very basis of libertarianism the NAP.

        1. Interesting take…
          The person, who in the vast majority of cases, chose to take an action, that resulted in a consequence, has been enslaved by that consequence.
          And the prevention of an action to rid oneself of the consequence, that consequence being a living human, is, somehow an aggression.
          Nice try, but killing of the unborn human is the ultimate form of aggression.

    2. The Constitution doesn’t.

      As with most things, a President would have to provide a good explanation and then CONVINCE Americans that a certain pandemic strategy was a good idea to follow it.

      Trump didnt have the Constitutional power to force a national mask mandate and states like Georgia never instituted one either. Us Georgians are fine with no masks, open businesses and schools, and no social distancing.

  22. What makes this article exceptionally pathetic for Reason and Jacob, is that the Administration action was very Federal and avoided heavy handed direct-control of the private sector. They favored coordination, not control.

    Basically, everything a Libertarian should want in a Federal government.

    1. ^this

  23. In other news, Trump didn’t shit his pants today.

    It’s a proud day for all Americans.

    1. Any report on Basement Bunker Biden and his underwear?

      1. Misek won’t admire Basement Bunker Biden until he feeds Jill a cyanide capsule and puts a Walther PPK to his temple.

      2. I think It is a pretty silly straw to clutch. So Biden did a lot of work from home early in the pandemic just as many of us do now.

        So what? That is smart actually. If that is all he’s got on Biden and that his son has some sleazy business, this coming from Trump inc. they don’t have much.

        Attack him on his policies. I sure wouldn’t vote for him because of those.

  24. More succinct Sullum: Science! Grump-a-Trump… because Science!

  25. The original 2 million+ estimate still looks correct based on IFR and and R0.

    But R was never going to stay at R0 because people modify their behavior without government action. IOW Trump’s claim is ridiculous in *exactly* the same way as the low IQ doomer propaganda.

    1. Isn’t the actual IFR also an order of magnitude (maybe closer to 2 orders) lower than the 3-4% we were initially sold?

      1. I quite following this closely during the summer. It looked to be dipping under 1% with improved care back then. (That’s with Western demographics. Nobody is dying in Africa because nobody is old or fat.)

        1. Agreed, during the summer, it was obvious the bug wasn’t that deadly. But I meant back during late February-March when the panic was really starting to get going here, and when many of the more apocalyptic models—
          Ferguson’s bullshit at Imperial, in particular—were given credence by decision-makers.

          1. I remember the earliest estimate when there were hardly any cases outside of Wuhan was 0.5%-5% and that didn’t change much. I never followed the Ferguson stuff or the models. The only political nonsense I followed was Richard Epstein because I’ve always hated that guy and seeing him completely discredit himself and every thing he’s ever touched was hilarious AF.

            1. Latest consensus is ~6.5 per 1,000 on the IFR. The Imperial College and Univ. of Nebraska studies that drove the pandemic had it about twice that, with absurdly high estimates on R0.

              Here in the hospital planning world, we’ve found that the models hew closest to reality with a baseline R0 around 2.15 and a hospitalization rate of about 1% (which implies an IFR of about 2 per 1,000). I’m betting the cross-immunity conundrum fills that gap, but who knows.

              1. *drove the panic.

              2. 2/1,000 is lower than the total death rate in some places.

    2. It was also a very naive model used to generate those numbers, wasn’t it? Not only does it assume no changes in behavior, it also assumes that everyone is equally likely to infect others if infected, which is never the case. Some people will always be “superspreaders” either because of their social patterns or some peculiarity of biology.

      1. People were pointing that out, while others were saying Trump was downplaying the severity of the crisis.

      2. Total number infected from R0 is more simple mathematical identity than model.

        This is similar to the issue of whether the CBO should use “dynamic models.” Personally I think it’s smart to start with the 1st order simple arithmetic and argue from there how much 2nd and 3rd order effects matter.

  26. In my opinion, the Trump administration’s handling of this crisis has been pretty… darned libertarian. It left the policies of each locality copletely up to the local state and municipal health departments. Governors and mayors.

    Tune your libertarian listening devices and hear what complaints on both sides of the political aisle are. Everything I hear from the left-ish side of the argument is Trump hasn’t locked down long and hard enough, and hasn’t asserted enough Imperialist Presidential Control. That tells you a lot about what the Democratic hopes and dreams are in regards to the upcoming election.

    1. While I often wish he would shut up, or at least have a more consistent message, his handling of the whole virus thing is one of my favorite features of Trump as president. Trying to impose a national lockdown policy would have been totally stupid.

      1. And I’m still just shocked that most people seem to be just fine with something called “lockdown” being imposed on them. That is not something that happens in a remotely free society.

        1. My analisys may be wrong-headed, but I think that because this devolved into a political fight, the pro-lockdown, wear-your-mask-in-the-bathtub contingent as decided that pushing those notions is a way to “pwn the conservatives”, much like the intransigence on the right which fought marijuana legalization for so many years.

          Conservatives associated marijuana use with hippy-liberal types, so any opposition to liberalizing the laws was seen as a way to “pwn the libs”, so they dug in and held on to the ideal way past its sell-by date.

          1. I think that’s part of it. But I’m not convinced it is enough of it that this wouldn’t happen in a less insane political climate.
            I still think there is more of a class divide than anything. Most of my friends who aren’t having any of it are not what you would call particularly libertarian or conservative, at least when it comes to economics or limited government. I see working class folk being more or less normal (if they have work) and fancy people being ridiculous about it all.

            1. But that suggests exactly what I’m saying. Conservative/liberal has fallen almost on class lines. The dirty working class are all Trump supporters. So let’s tweak their noses while we work from home in our creative jobs!

          2. Plus, most of the rest of the world went even more overboard than most of the US.
            I hope people are right that if Biden is elected it will all be dropped more quickly. But I’m not so convinced.

          3. The most obvious sign to me that the mask mandates are the left playing hall monitor is the total lack of “shut the fuck up” mandates. I went to Wal Mart recently and they had somebody strictly enforcing masks at the door while the store is full of whales screaming into their phones. There’s zero scientific basis for this.

            1. Zero. Repeat. Zero.

            2. I was happy to see my safeway removed the counter-productive one-way stickers on the aisles. They’re still up in others.

              Pre coronavirus:

              How many linear feet did you have to travel in the grocery store to do your shopping? About 1500.

              Hany people were you forced to pass because you could only enter the aisle from one direction? About 15

              Post coronavirus:

              How many linear feet did you have to travel in the grocery store to do your shopping? About 3000.

              Hany people were you forced to pass because you could only enter the aisle from one direction? About 40

              1. Second question pre-corona should have read:

                How many people were you forced to pass while you could freely choose to enter an aisle from any direction.

      2. I would have preferred more cheerleading for the anti lockdown cause and that he would have shit canned any stimulus not going to individuals or families.
        I give him a B

    2. “In my opinion, the Trump administration’s handling of this crisis has been pretty… darned libertarian.”

      Agree 100%. But of course, Reason has repeatedly criticized Trump for his handling of this crisis.

  27. >>That claim is wildly implausible

    most covid claims have been.

  28. Between 160 million and 214 million people in the United States could be infected over the course of the epidemic, according to a projection that encompasses the range of the four scenarios. That could last months or even over a year, with infections concentrated in shorter periods, staggered across time in different communities, experts said. As many as 200,000 to 1.7 million people could die.

    New York Times, March 13. You’re totally right, he only saved 1.5 million lives. Unless you want to go with the lower-end scenario, the one where we do everything right, and only about 200,000 people die. But of course, we didn’t do everything right, we did everything wrong. We fucked up horribly in our handling of the coronavirus – well, Trump fucked up horribly – and therefore many times more than 200,000 people died.

    Wait, something doesn’t sound right here – somehow Trump mishandled this pandemic as badly as it could be handled, but deaths are in line with what we could expect to see if the pandemic were handled well, but we know Trump didn’t handle the pandemic well, yet deaths are nowhere near what they should be if the pandemic were badly handled…..Fuck! This makes my head hurt trying to square these two statements.

    1. proof you’re not a bot lol … boom

  29. If Joe Biden is elected president and fails to “lift every voice,” restore “the soul of the nation,” “secure environmental justice,” “revitalize Main Street,” “end violence against women,” “end our gun violence epidemic,” “end the opioid crisis,” “ensure the future is ‘Made in America,'” and “restore trust, transparency, common purpose, and accountability to our government,” will CNN and the Times count those as broken promises? Probably not

    Of course not. All of that was just Russian propaganda.

    1. Build Back Better is awful even if alliterate.

      1. Yeah they will if Biden has the audacity to list as his accomplishments “Ending violence against women.” You know, like Trump did with “Ending the pandemic” as an accomplishment. If he didn’t mean to say it, he shouldn’t have. Sullum as usual trying to make an excuse for him.

        It’s fine if Trump said his goal if re-elected is ending the pandemic. It’s not when he lists it as an accomplishment.

      2. And plagiarized too.

  30. Saying he saved 2+ million lives is as intellectually honest as blaming him for the 200+ thousand dead. The latter was foul logic and I can’t be surprised the President spun it to his advantage.

    1. It is not dishonest at all… they claimed that 2 million would die, not Trump. They claim the president has control over how many people die, not Trump.

      Ergo, it is perfectly fair for him to use their prediction, their benchmark, their chain of causality and their measure of responsibility to deduce a miraculous saving of 2 million lives. Every step of the way is their own words, their own calculations, their own measures and their own standards.

      They are hoist by their own pitard in this case.

  31. Why is government so irresponsible? There is absolutely no proof of this or no way to ever prove it. It’s all estimated guesswork designed to make government look better than it ever possibly could. Guess what? If Big Pharma drug mistakes and medical mistakes could be eliminated, over 300,000 lives could be saved. But, there is really no way to prove anything. Just like when they tell us that staying home saves lives…total nonsense. When they hold another war and tell hundreds of thousands of personnel to go fight it, then they could save most of those lives by telling everyone to stay home instead. That I might believe is possible.

  32. Covid was never going to kill 2.2 mil people here, so Trump is wrong on that. And the current covid death toll might be considerably less if New York and the New England region didn’t become an epicenter by sending by sending infected patients to nursing homes. And then protests spread it to the west coast.

    Covid response in America is basically a bunch of Karens whining everyone to “FOlloW tHe sCIenCe” even as they urged everyone to go outside in March, sent sick people to nursing homes, and mumbled “racial justice” as huge protests rocked the nation endlessly for weeks.

    Half of congress thinks what Joe Biden is doing should be the science driven model of American citizens. Everyone should just stay holed up at a basement for 7 hours, emerging occasionally to fetch essentials. We’re not NZ, doing this will kill the nation.

  33. “White House Says ‘President Trump’s Coronavirus Response Has Saved Over 2 Million Lives’

    That claim is wildly implausible and contradicted by the president’s suggestion that COVID-19 was never much of a threat.”

    Trump invented wildly implausible claims about COVID-19 just like he invented tariffs. May God spare us another four years of this tyrant.

    1. Your typing fingers to Gods eyes.

    2. Trump invented tariffs? Wow.

      Come see the insanity in the drooling leftist.

      1. Your sarcasm detector needs recalibration.

    3. “That claim is wildly implausible and contradicted by herpty-derp”

      But I bet you and your bum-chums are still squeaking that Trump murdered 200,000, despite the obvious incongruity if this is “implausible”.

  34. Trump has led this country to just about the worst response to Covid of any nation on the planet. We have 4% of the population and 20% of the cases. The death rate here per 100,000 people has been at the top of the list, and that’s the right way to measure its impact nationally. We are at 66, France 49, Canada 25, Germany 11, Japan 1, and South Korea (who like us identified its first case on Jan. 20), less than 1. Only 8 countries have a worse mortality rate than we do.

    The US was ranked number one in pandemic preparedness by Global Health Security Index. We were most ready. Results?

    “In absolute terms, the US ranks worst globally in terms of the absolute numbers of cases, and deaths since the onset of the pandemic. The US ranks better than only 4 other countries with respect to the number of cases per million, deaths per million, recovery rate, and tests per thousand. Of the 36 OECD countries, the US ranks 32nd followed by Spain, Sweden, the UK, and the Netherlands, which rank in 33rd to 36th place, respectively (Table 2).”

    https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0239398

    Really Sullum. Stop trying so hard to find excuses for this oaf.

    1. By the way, just the latest example of where we are heading…South Dakota.

      “Hospitalizations from COVID-19 in South Dakota reached new heights for the fourth straight day on Wednesday. The number of daily new cases also set a record, with 1,270 people testing positive for the virus. The virus has surged in the state and region, sending South Dakota to the nation’s second-worst ranking in new cases per capita over the last two weeks. Johns Hopkins researchers report that one out of roughly every 77 people in the state has tested positive in the last two weeks. The wave of cases has resulted in 412 people being hospitalized with the virus. Health officials also reported nine new deaths. October has become the state’s deadliest month of the pandemic, with 189 deaths so far.”

      https://www.gillettenewsrecord.com/news/region/article_685be69a-474b-52fb-87b5-bc168a8f9ff3.html

      So to repeat for the thick headed here, first you have positive cases, then hospitalizations, and then deaths.

    2. Finally, a Buttplug post that has a point and a link too. Of course he cherrypicks what it actually says though.

      Funny that Buttplug left out this part:

      Results

      The US ranks highest in preparedness, with a score of 83.5, a five-point difference from the next country, the UK. The US ranks highest in four out of six areas: prevention, detection, health system capacity, and compliance with international norms. Luxembourg ranks at the 67th position in the global ranking, with an overall score of 43.8. The 20 highest ranked countries are mostly OECD members, except for Thailand (6th) and Malaysia (18th) (Table 1).

      1. It’s almost like retarded decisions like sticking infected people into retirement homes was the only thing that could fuck it up.

        Now who would do something like that, Buttplug?

      2. Once again, mommy, your reading comprehension skills are unparalleled! In the ranks of ignoramuses anyway.

        I said:

        “The US was ranked number one in pandemic preparedness by Global Health Security Index.“

        Try again!

      3. Let me spell this out for you, oh slow witted one. The US was ranked number one in being ready to handle a pandemic. We had it all at our disposal. And the results of what we did with those resources?

        Nearly the worst in the world.

        Try to keep up. I know it’s hard for you.

        1. In high tech medical care, research and development, medical education and training, the US is a top leader. Do not forget that is a more international thing than most people want to admit. People come from all over the world as nurses, researchers, doctors, technologists. Some stay which is a very good thing.

          A pandemic requires all of those efforts. The medical effort is also about distribution to handle those cases from one place to another. The ability to deliver care when you have a flare up in a community in Arizona or somewhere when it gets tight.

          Red states Blue states is total garbage. We as a nation have not done a stellar job dealing with this. Leadership is near absent.

          1. Yes indeed. We had more at our disposal than anyone. And it’s very clear we squandered it. And couple those resources with the lead time we had…for Gods sake, we watched what was occurring in Italy and acted like we were immune.

            So much for American exceptionalism. When it’s only kept on paper.

    3. The death rate here per 100,000 people has been at the top of the list, and that’s the right way to measure its impact nationally.

      No, it’s not.

      Excess deaths and GDP growth taken together are the best way to measure the government’s response in total (the US is 6th in the OECD in excess deaths per capita based on the latest data published by The Economist). Society (and the government by extension) has more to worry about than just limiting the numbers of deaths due to the pandemic. Life is trade-offs, but you lack the emotional maturity to choose those trade-offs yourself.

      And though you’ve ridden the “BUT THE RED STATES” hobbyhorse into the ground, none of them have a weekly peak which come close to NY’s peak of +301% or NJ’s +226%. The headline numbers are still the aggregated results of successive northeast blue state failures in testing and treatment. Bitch about ND and SD all you want, but at their worst they’re limping along at the barely a higher pace than California while their citizens still able to live their lives on their own terms.

      1. Excess deaths, eh?

        “The U.S.’s excess deaths count per 100,00 people is also higher than that for comparable countries. The U.S. has the second highest excess deaths count per 100,000 people at 85.2, with the U.K having the highest at 87.4 excess deaths per 100,000 people as of August 16, 2020. However, using more recent data from August 30, 2020, the U.S. has a higher rate of excess deaths per 100,000 at 90.1 than the U.K., which has 89.6 per capita. This data was not used in the chart above because not all countries reported data as of this week. As mentioned above, the U.S. already had the highest deaths per capita over peer countries, and the direct and indirect impact of COVID-19 is likely to exacerbate this mortality gap.”

        We were 85. Austria 12. France 37. Germany 4. Switzerland 6.

        https://www.healthsystemtracker.org/brief/the-pandemics-effect-on-the-widening-gap-in-mortality-rate-between-the-u-s-and-peer-countries/

        Pick another stat. But you’ll still be wrong. Our response has been at the bottom.

    4. Deaths from Covid, or deaths with Covid?
      Our death numbers are exaggerated.
      The CDC says only 6% of deaths have been from Covid, exclusively.
      Our total could be from factors such as older people living longer with the types of comorbidities that contribute to deaths with Covid, thus being “available” to contract the disease than in countries, where such survival is lessened.
      CDC figures listed more than twenty comorbidities, including over 5,000 from “accidental or self-inflicted trauma” yet almost half of total deaths were from comorbidities that were uncategorized.
      A lot of the “statistics” are unreliable.

      1. Yes it is a big conspiracy and the CDC and hospitals are all in on it.

      2. If I am a diabetic with a heart condition and I go to the hospital with pneumonia, develop sepsis and respiratory failure leading to death that doesn’t count as death from pneumonia right?

        1. If you have a heart attack that you may have had even without Covid, does that count as a Covid death or a heart attack death?

          I’d say heart attack.

          1. You would need to know the details. Covid is known to cause heart damage. He may have dropped his blood pressure due to the infection resulting in the heart attack.

            You have no way of knowing what would have happened “anyway”. You have to put the picture together. Say I get a gunshot wound resulting in kidney damage, resulting in blood loss, resulting in brain damage, resulting in death.

            Is it fair to list me as death from a gunshot wound?

          2. Nobody is trying to inflate numbers here. I think we are getting the best estimates we can. Think about how many people that would involve worldwide. Universities, medical institutions, public health departments, all over the world collect this data.

  35. That claim is wildly implausible…

    It’s more plausible and credible than anything you’ve written the last four years, Sullum, you mendacious cunt.

  36. This claim is just “following the experts” nothing more nothing less.

  37. The world, not just our country is facing a major crisis. The virus itself and reaction to it.

    This is a time for leadership. The question at the poll is up to the individual to decide.

    I support Jo Jorgensen in this election. She has a solid platform and I am not going to cast my vote for someone or something I do not have faith in. My choice.

  38. Has anyone yet asked Joe Biden what he would have actually done differently? That to me is te question that should be asked. And honestly, I don’t think anyone at this particular point in time knows enough about the virus to definitively say what the correct course of action should have been. Are masks really helping? MOST people are social distancing. MOST are wearing masks. Yet the amount of positive tests are going up. Is the virus less potent now since the death rate seems to be dropping? Not just in overall number of deaths but also in amount of deaths compared to the number of people who contracted it? That is the comical thing. Too many people definitively claiming anything about this virus, when the one thing we know for sure is we still don’t know enough. Trump’s numbers are just as plausible as masks working. The data would say Masks aren’t working (infections up since masks) Trumps data actually supports his claim. (Projected millions of death vs approximately 2 million less.) However, we don’t really know and we won’t know for a long time.

  39. From March – June, Sweden was condemned by fear mongering lockdown activists for not shutting down businesses and schools.

    But since July 30, Sweden’s daily Covid death rate has remained below 0.33 per million (and averaged about 0.21 per million).

    In contrast, the US daily Covid death rate has ranged between 1.80 and 3.47 per million since May (and averaged about 2.40 per million).
    https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus-data-explorer?zoomToSelection=true&time=2020-03-01..latest&country=USA~SWE~GBR~ITA~POL~NLD~CZE&region=World&deathsMetric=true&interval=smoothed&perCapita=true&smoothing=7&pickerMetric=aged_70_older&pickerSort=desc

    If lockdowns and mask mandates (neither of which were imposed in Sweden) protected public health, why has the daily Covid death rate in the US remained more than ten fold higher than Sweden’s during the past three months?

    1. “Coronavirus is spreading in 17 of Sweden’s 21 counties, according to Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet. Worst hit is Scania, Sweden’s southern region around Malmo, the country’s third-largest city, where national authorities have urged people to avoid shopping centers and shops and stay away from public transportation. Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s chief epidemiologist who is credited with being behind Sweden’s much-debated COVID-19 approach of keeping large parts of society open, said the country is about ”to reach a critical point,” as he announced the restrictions for Malmo, which took effect immediately for at least a three weeks. Also, the counties of Orebro, west of Stockholm, and Kronoberg in southern Sweden have been warnings of strains on hospitals due to the number of COVID-19 patients.”

      https://www.thenationalherald.com/coronavirus/arthro/coronavirus_is_spreading_in_17_of_sweden_s_21_counties-1098640/

      1. So your response is stuff that hasn’t actually happened yet…got it.

    2. Yes but for some reason god loves Sweden.

      Or maybe it is all the salmon they eat.

      1. Or maybe their universal health care system, that Reason ignores.

  40. The virus isnt going away in this country and it may very well reach 2 million in another year…and this is not counting the hundreds of thousands who did not die, but now have defective livers, or lungs or brain issues. , it could reach 5 million in 5 years. It may wildly mutate in the middle of winter and start killing 10,000 in a day. So, its ridiculous of the big guy to claim victory over anything. Now, about those bankruptcies…

    1. I know two people who had to be on ventilators. One for two months and in a coma. Another who did not need the hospital but has months now of residual symptoms.

  41. Trumps policies killed no one and saved no one. If it was easily controlled, it would not be a pandemic.
    How 5 of History’s Worst Pandemics Finally Ended
    1. Plague of Justinian—No One Left to Die
    2. Black Death—The Invention of Quarantine
    3. The Great Plague of London—Sealing Up the Sick
    4. Smallpox—A European Disease Ravages the New World
    5. Cholera—A Victory for Public Health Research

  42. The president’s opponents want to blame him for 200k deaths from a virus that has spread around the world. Original estimates were over 2 million Americans would die from the virus hence the crazy lockdowns.
    In politics this is normal.

    The one expert who has been the most correct is Dr. Osterholm from Minnesota.

  43. MAGA!

    Trump 2020!

  44. That claim is wildly implausible and contradicted by the president’s suggestion that COVID-19 was never much of a threat

    Is it?

    The claim was that between 1.5 and around 5 would die if nothing was done.

    Something was done.

    And less than the lowest estimate of people died.

    Which put the results exactly in line with the president DOING something AND his claim.

  45. Such a claim appears wild — at first.

    However, much fewer drivers were on the road during quarantine, and fewer workers were out in the field operating heavy machinery.

    People normally involved in issues with Hillary Clinton emails were redirected to consider their health and as a consequence possibly more thoughtful than usual over the course.

    This means that there were definable factors of negligence undergoing preclusion as well as licensed vigilance from typical media snowball effect.

    So, yes, 2 million is not unrealistic, particularly with respect to all zombies being prevented who finally had an idea of what they may be suffering from wasn’t necessarily some fluke alien death ray nor drugs in the neighborhood water-supply nor a Soviet-style sneak attack.

  46. Actually the federal government did not and cannot enact the preventive measures done like business shutdowns and mandates. So in that sense they have not really saved anyone. That was all on the state and local level. The stuff many of Trumps supporters seem to hate so much.

    The feds did give some support money to states and hospitals. Hence the conspiracy theory that the death numbers are inflated by hospitals to get more money although hospitals do not write death certificates, doctors do that and don’t get a dime more.

    What they also did was pay a lot of vaccine development cost, and the relief money. Hopefully the vaccines will work. They have also promised the vaccine will be free so more people will roll up their sleeves which is good.

    So I give them partial credit.

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