Trump falsely claims 99% of COVID-19 cases are ‘totally harmless’

Based on identified cases, the CDC shows a cumulative case death rate of 4.5%, and roughly 4% of new cases require hospitalization.

July 9, 2020
Category: Fact-Checking

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I hope you enjoyed the Fourth of July weekend. While I spent time visiting with family — socially distant, of course — President Donald Trump held a rally at Mount Rushmore.

“We have tested over 40 million people,” Trump said at the White House on July 4. “By so doing, we show cases, 99% of which are totally harmless. Results that no other country will show, because no other country has testing that we have — not in terms of the numbers or in terms of the quality.”

“Totally harmless” is a strong term, and while people can debate the finer points of what constitutes harm, no definition backs up Trump’s 99% figure.

PolitiFact reached out to the White House and the Trump campaign for the underlying data to support his claim and did not hear back.

Epidemiologists say we continue to learn more about COVID-19 and the damage it causes short of death.

“To cavalierly say that only 1% of infections result in problems is wildly inaccurate,” said Donald Thea, Boston University professor of global health. “We are seeing reports of young people who have recovered from mild cases developing diabetes or blood clots and suffering from chronic fatigue, respiratory compromise, persistent fever or coming back with bacterial sepsis weeks later. There’s too many reports of other organ damage that hints that there are possible long-term serious implications.”

Click here to read the full 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.