“It turns out it has serious consequences when in the middle of a serious public health emergency the president just lies about it over and over and over again.”
New polling shows public trust is eroding regarding the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, as news outlets attempt to catalogue President Donald Trump’s lies about the crisis.
Yahoo! News and YouGov surveyed 1,635 adults across the country this week, finding that 53% of Americans do not trust the president to tell the truth about the virus, officially known as COVID-19.
Seventy-nine percent of Democrats surveyed said they agreed that Trump can’t be trusted, while just 16% of Republicans agreed.
The poll revealed lopsided levels of trust along partisan lines, with 79% of Democrats saying they believe Trump is lying to the U.S. public about the crisis and just 16% of Republicans reporting the same.
On MSNBC Thursday night, Rachel Maddow was among the journalists attempting to clear up the president’s misinformation about the coronavirus and public health experts’ views on the crisis.
After playing a clip showing Trump claiming that Americans who return from overseas are currently being tested “very heavily” for the coronavirus, Maddow stated emphatically, “That is not true at all.”
“This is just, flat, not happening, no matter how many times he says it,” Maddow said. “Americans are not being very heavily tested for the coronavirus before they get here from another country, once they get here from another country, or if they’re just here and haven’t gone to another country… That is a whole logistical operational thing that the president has just imagined.”
As of Wednesday, according to Business Insider and The Atlantic, fewer than 8,000 Americans had been tested for the coronavirus, which has been confirmed in more than 1,600 people and has killed at least 40 people in the U.S. so far.
By contrast, South Korea has been running about 10,000 tests per day since February.
The CDC and state health departments are only allowing Americans to be tested for the virus if they have traveled to one of five heavily affected countries in the past 14 days or if they have been exposed to someone with a confirmed case of coronavirus.
As The Washington Post reported Thursday, “The constraints are squeezing out patients who don’t meet rigid government eligibility criteria, even if their doctors want them tested, according to dozens of interviews with doctors and patients this week.”
Cases have increasingly being detected in people with no connection to recent travel and who have contracted the illness through “community spread” within the United States.
“We do not know the actual number of people in the U.S. who are infected because so few Americans have actually been tested,” said Jake Tapper on CNN in another Thursday evening segment.
“President Trump continues to lie to the American people and say that testing is going smoothly… that’s not the case.” @JakeTapper reports on coronavirus testing troubles. https://t.co/8dUuBm3yRP pic.twitter.com/P9uwDuz6p7
— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) March 12, 2020
As a result, many Americans may be unknowingly spreading the illness to others, including the elderly and medically vulnerable.
On MSNBC, Maddow shared a number of other clips of Trump and Vice President Mike Pence telling the press that the coronavirus outbreak is expected to dissipate as spring approaches, that there is little to no risk for the general public, and that COVID-19 is not much more dangerous to the U.S. public than the seasonal flu—along with statements from public health experts debunking the claims.
“It turns out it has serious consequences when in the middle of a serious public health emergency the president just lies about it over and over and over again,” said Maddow. “For us as a country it is just unfortunate that we have the kind of president who has that easy a time lying.”