In defending his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic earlier this month, President Donald Trump brought forward an unusual comparison, implying that his predecessor had done a worse job than him during a separate viral outbreak.
Speaking with Sean Hannity during an interview on Fox News on March 4, Trump claimed that the swine flu (H1N1) resulted in 17,000 deaths across the country — a result that came about, Trump suggested, because former President Barack Obama “didn’t do anything” to contain the disease. (His numbers were off — there were about 13,000 deaths as a result of the swine flu.)
Trump’s comments were examined by a number of different fact-checking sites, and were found to be obscenely false. The Obama administration, these sites concluded, had responded appropriately to the H1N1 pandemic. Indeed, the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology in August 2009 predicted between 30,000 and 90,000 were going to die from the disease, a range that is many times larger than the actual outcome, all things considered.
Trump used the numbers to demonstrate that his administration was doing a better job than Obama’s had — but it was an apples-to-oranges comparison, as it was looking at Obama’s record at the end of a crisis, and comparing it to Trump’s at the beginning of his.
In all likelihood, Trump’s final tally is going to be grimmer.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the president’s coronavirus task force, spoke on Sunday morning on CNN’s “State of the Union.” When asked about what outcome the crisis could have, Fauci warned that his predictions were based on models he had observed, and that they could be different in the end.
Dr. Anthony Fauci says there could potentially be between 100,000 to 200,000 deaths related to the coronavirus and millions of cases. “I just don’t think that we really need to make a projection when it’s such a moving target, that you could so easily be wrong,” he adds. #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/F2MOHY3xl4