August 27, 2020

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Hey everyone,

Tonight is the last night of the Republican National Convention, which means — again — the PolitiFact team will be up late fact-checking a barrage of claims. That’s two weeks of conventions in the middle of a global pandemic, so next time you run into a PolitiFact reporter, buy them a drink.

RNC speakers spent less time discussing the coronavirus than did those at the Democratic National Convention last week. Here is a rundown of COVID-19 claims made during the last three days of the RNC.

Larry Kudlow, director of the U.S. National Economic Council, claimed: The pandemic “was awful. Health and economic impacts were tragic. Hardship and heartbreak were everywhere. But presidential leadership came swiftly and effectively, with an extraordinary rescue for health and safety to successfully fight the coronavirus.”

To hear Kudlow say it, the pandemic is in the rearview mirror. There are states, such as Texas and Florida, where a deadly surge has eased. Nationally, however, the death toll continues to climb.

Data from the Covid Tracking Project show deaths topping 170,000. And the recent rise in daily deaths reported is only slightly less compared with the early months of the pandemic.

Kudlow offered an optimistic picture of the economy’s prospects, telling Americans to expect 20% growth in a “V-shaped recovery” in the second half of the year, following steep first-half declines.

But much hinges on the course of the virus. Current trends show an ongoing threat to the prosperity Kudlow described.

Donald Trump Jr. on the first night claimed: “Democrats claim to be for workers, but they’ve spent the entire pandemic trying to sneak a tax break for millionaires in Democrat states into the COVID relief bill.”

This statement requires more context. Trump is referring to efforts by Democrats to erase a provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that caps the deduction for state and local taxes at $10,000.

Trump said Democrats tried to “sneak” in the tax break, but it was widely reported that Democrats wanted to roll back the deduction cap.

The deduction benefits high-income taxpayers in high-tax jurisdictions, according to the Tax Foundation. New York politicians fought against the deduction. However, it did not only affect states led by Democrats — and can be used by ordinary taxpayers in these high-tax states

Vice President Mike Pence on the third night claimed: “As we speak we’re developing a growing number of treatments, including convalescent plasma, that are saving lives all across the country.”

This requires context. Days before Pence’s speech, the Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of convalescent plasma for the treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. This treatment involves isolating COVID-19 antibodies from the plasma of people who have recently recovered from the virus and injecting the antibodies into patients in the early stages of the illness.

Although the Trump administration has said this treatment shows some encouraging early findings, the data they shared was based on a Mayo Clinic preliminary analysis that has not been peer reviewed. Clinicians and researchers have urged caution, maintaining that more research is necessary before a survival benefit is proven. They also question the timing of the authorization — which came on the eve of the Republican convention.

Click here for more from last night.

President Donald Trump claims ‘big surge’ of COVID-19 cases in New Zealand

New Zealand reported nine new cases on Aug. 17, the day of Trump’s remark in Minnesota. The nation previously went over 100 days without an instance of community spread. Read the fact-check»

DeSantis says COVID-19 is a lower risk for school-aged kids than flu

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ claim is Mostly True. COVID-related rates of hospitalization and death for children are lower than those of seasonal influenza. Experts caution that children could be spreaders of the virus, and many unknowns remain. Get the facts»

Have 14% of UNC students tested positive for coronavirus?

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, said that “14% of students tested positive” at the University of North Carolina. About 14% of tests recently came back positive — and that figure comes from a sample size of only 954 students. Read more»

Tuberville claims 25 GOP governors ‘have decided to play football’

Contrary to a statement made by Senate hopeful — and former college football coach — Tommy Tuberville, collegiate athletic conferences and universities themselves decide whether their teams play football this fall. Not governors. Read the fact-check»

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Alex Mahadevan is a senior multimedia reporter at MediaWise. He can be reached at amahadevan@poynter.org or on Twitter at @AlexMahadevan. Follow MediaWise on TikTok.

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Alex Mahadevan is senior multimedia reporter with the MediaWise project. He most recently worked as a data journalist at the personal finance startup The Penny…
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