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Trump says coronavirus is 'dying out;' Dr. Sanjay Gupta says the virus is not dying

CNN's Vivian Salama and Dana Bash join The Lead.

Posted: Jun 18, 2020 9:01 AM
Updated: Jun 18, 2020 9:01 AM

A version of this article first appeared in the "Reliable Sources" newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

President Trump went on a veritable interview tour on Wednesday — Sinclair, Gray TV, the Wall Street Journal, Fox News — and was thoroughly dismissive of the coronavirus threat in at least two of the interviews.

Gray TV's DC bureau chief Jacqueline Policastro said to Trump, "Coronavirus cases are rising in 22 states, including Oklahoma, where you plan to hold a big rally this week. Aren't you worried about people getting sick?"

"No," Trump said, "because if you look, the numbers are very minuscule compared to what it was. It's dying out. By the way, we're doing very well in vaccines and therapeutics." And he went on from there.

His claim about the virus "dying out" is countered by health experts and the government's own data, which shows cases spiking across the country.

But he made another similar claim later in the day in a phone call with Fox's Sean Hannity, Trump delivered "his usual exaggeration about his travel restrictions," per CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale, and said the US will not have to close again.

"We're very close to a vaccine and we're very close to therapeutics, really good therapeutics," he said. "But even without that, I don't like to talk about that because it's fading away. It's going to fade away, but having a vaccine would be really nice and that's going to happen."

Trump's "fading away" talk echoes his February and March claims -- since disproven -- that the virus is "going away."

His new comments on Wednesday reaffirmed what CNN's White House team wrote here: "Trump has largely tuned out the persistent coronavirus contagion -- which is causing spikes in new cases across 21 states and daily death tolls that reach into the hundreds -- to focus instead on reviving both the economy and his own political prospects."

This story quoted an administration official close to the coronavirus task force as saying, "They just don't want to deal with the reality of it. They're in denial."

Here's the reality

Dr. Sanjay Gupta's viral tweetstorm informed millions of people on Wednesday. So did his numerous live shots on CNN.

Gupta rebutted Trump's "it's dying out" claim in an interview with Don Lemon, saying, "It's not going away, it's just sort of moved around the country, which was exactly what was expected. It's not dying away."

Other experts have also warned against wishful thinking about the virus.

"It does seem that the administration wants to move beyond coronavirus, but the virus isn't going to cooperate," Dr. Zeke Emanuel, a former Obama White House health policy adviser, said on CNN's "New Day." Emanuel is also on Joe Biden's public health advisory committee.

"Unfortunately, by opening up so rapidly, we have just increased the number of cases we're going to see and the number of deaths we're going to see," he said.

In other news... bombshells from Bolton's book

The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and CNN all published details from John Bolton's book on Wednesday. There are many, many takeaways, so I recommend you read the CNN team's full recap here. But the No. 1 bit of news is that Bolton claims Trump "personally asked his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, to help him win the 2020 US presidential election."

Trump allies continue to claim that Bolton revealed classified info; those arguments will be addressed in court. The Justice Department filed for a temporary restraining order on Wednesday, so there's likely to be a hearing by the end of the week. But Wednesday's leaks demonstrated that the book is already out in the open. ABC's "World News Tonight" aired an excerpt from Martha Raddatz's sit-down interview with Bolton, and "GMA" will air another clip on Thursday morning, I'm told.

"Should be executed"

Per Washington Post reporter Josh Dawsey's summary of the book's highlights and lowlights, Bolton "describes a summer 2019 meeting in New Jersey where Trump says journalists should be jailed so they have to divulge their sources: 'These people should be executed. They are scumbags,' Trump said, according to Bolton's account."

Trump calls Bolton a "washed up guy"

Oliver Darcy writes: "After discussing a few other topics first, Hannity finally got around to asking Trump about Bolton's book. Trump first responded to Bolton's allegations by saying that he has been tough on countries like China and Russia. The prez then (predictably) lashed out at his former national security advisor and said he 'broke the law' by publishing his tell-all. Characterizing Bolton as a "washed up guy," Trump said he effectively handed Bolton a favor by giving him a 'non-Senate confirmed position." Soon after, Hannity moved on from the topic..."

What is the best way to convey all of this?

Oliver Darcy writes: "Bolton's book contains a multitude of explosive allegations. And because the revelations came by way of a flood on Wednesday, versus a steady drip by drip, it's difficult for news organizations to properly explain each of the stories to their respective audiences. Some news outlets framed their stories around specific angles, like Bolton's allegation that Trump sought reelection help from China, while other outlets went with more general headlines trying to cram everything under one umbrella."

"Personally," Darcy adds, "I thought the Drudge Report did an excellent job, stacking multiple banner headlines on top of each other with several of the biggest revelations that emerged from the book. Readers skimming the site walked away with a good amount of info in just a few seconds. Compare that to other headlines which required readers to first click on the story and then invest several minutes reading it from top to bottom. It's important to remember that most people are not on Twitter all day, and laying out key points in bullet-point form — which allows the news to be easier digested — is helpful for those trying to get a grip on this wild news cycle."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 74328

Reported Deaths: 3041
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15860725
Lake7570275
Elkhart484384
Allen3902163
St. Joseph350081
Hamilton2763104
Vanderburgh196313
Hendricks1887108
Cass17959
Johnson1757118
Porter131639
Clark123347
Tippecanoe121111
Madison97965
LaPorte91130
Howard89065
Kosciusko85212
Bartholomew79347
Marshall78422
Floyd77946
Monroe75630
Delaware73052
Dubois69612
Boone67846
Noble67829
Hancock66038
Vigo65110
Jackson5865
Warrick58130
LaGrange55910
Shelby55327
Grant52630
Dearborn50828
Morgan47634
Clinton4343
Henry38320
Wayne37710
White36910
Montgomery35421
Lawrence34627
Harrison33823
Decatur33732
Putnam2888
Miami2742
Daviess27320
Scott26810
Greene25034
Jasper2432
Franklin24214
DeKalb2324
Gibson2254
Jennings22512
Steuben2103
Ripley2087
Carroll1912
Fayette1897
Perry18612
Starke1787
Orange17124
Posey1710
Wabash1693
Fulton1682
Wells1682
Jefferson1632
Knox1540
Whitley1526
Washington1401
Tipton13810
Spencer1363
Sullivan1261
Huntington1223
Randolph1224
Clay1215
Newton11810
Adams1012
Jay910
Owen901
Pulaski831
Rush804
Fountain742
Brown731
Ohio655
Blackford642
Benton610
Pike530
Switzerland520
Vermillion520
Parke511
Crawford450
Martin450
Union410
Warren221
Unassigned0206

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 100848

Reported Deaths: 3669
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin18317524
Cuyahoga13514499
Hamilton9643255
Lucas5348323
Montgomery436294
Summit3555222
Butler292963
Marion292545
Mahoning2554255
Pickaway238742
Stark1827139
Warren178939
Lorain177078
Columbiana165860
Trumbull1524106
Fairfield138732
Delaware130119
Licking128149
Clark114614
Lake111438
Wood104358
Clermont93311
Medina92335
Miami83938
Tuscarawas78214
Portage75861
Allen74044
Greene69012
Belmont62126
Mercer61213
Richland60412
Erie57527
Ashtabula56946
Geauga55644
Wayne53958
Ross4844
Huron3965
Darke39529
Ottawa38626
Hancock3783
Sandusky37716
Madison37410
Athens3571
Holmes3286
Lawrence2830
Auglaize2546
Union2511
Muskingum2361
Jefferson2292
Scioto2261
Seneca2143
Knox2057
Putnam20517
Preble2032
Washington20322
Shelby1944
Coshocton1936
Champaign1762
Crawford1745
Morrow1702
Hardin16512
Clinton1646
Highland1581
Logan1552
Fulton1481
Wyandot1468
Ashland1443
Defiance1444
Williams1353
Perry1303
Brown1292
Hocking1189
Guernsey1177
Henry1172
Fayette1130
Carroll1115
Monroe9318
Pike760
Jackson740
Van Wert711
Paulding690
Gallia651
Adams612
Meigs400
Vinton312
Harrison261
Morgan260
Noble160
Unassigned00
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