In predictable fashion, President Donald Trump has been attacked relentlessly by elected Democrats and their media allies over his response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is one of those who have consistently dogged the president on the matter, but a Breitbart “fact check” of her recent claim that Trump’s “failure” to take the virus seriously had resulted in the U.S. being hit “worse than any other advanced nation” puts her assertion squarely in the “misleading” category.
Fact check: Harris’ claim “misleading”
Harris, who was picked Tuesday to be presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s running mate, made the factually inaccurate attack on President Trump during her introductory speech on Wednesday.
“This virus has impacted almost every country. But there’s a reason it has hit America worse than any other advanced nation. It’s because of Trump’s failure to take it seriously from the start,” Harris claimed, according to Breitbart.
Yet, as the media outlet proceeded to show in a “fact check” piece, that isn’t exactly the case, and the accuracy of such an assessment would depend on what specific coronavirus-related metric is being utilized. As such, Breitbart labeled the statement “misleading” rather than declaring it completely false.
Not that simple
If one were to measure only the total number of confirmed positive cases of COVID-19, then yes, the U.S. has been the hardest hit of all nations with an estimated 5.3 million total cases, according to data compiled by Worldometer.
However, that high number is easily explained by a few important caveats, namely that the U.S. is the third-most populous nation in the world, that it has conducted more tests — roughly 67.8 million total, or nearly 205,000 per million residents — than most other nations combined, and that the U.S. also leads the world in the number of total recoveries from confirmed cases, at about 2.8 million, according to the Worldometer tracker.
Furthermore, what President Trump’s critics such as Harris conveniently forget or ignore is that more testing will inevitably lead to the discovery of more cases, as well as the fact that the only reason the U.S. has been able to conduct so many tests is that Trump sidestepped burdensome regulations and mobilized the private sector to ramp up production and access to meet the nation’s massive testing needs.
Harris’ claim is abjectly false if one were to look at COVID-related deaths, however, albeit on a per capita basis, Breitbart noted. According to coronavirus mortality data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. has indeed tragically suffered the most deaths — again, with the third-largest population and with untrustworthy or incomplete data coming out of China and India, the two more populous nations — with just over 166,000 thus far.
On a per-capita basis of deaths per 100,000, though, the U.S. ranks 10th with a rate of 50.75/100,000, trailing such “advanced nations” as Belgium, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, among others, according to Johns Hopkins.
Disproving Harris’ claim even further is the case-fatality rate, which measures COVID-related deaths against only the number of confirmed cases. By that metric, the U.S. actually ranks 55th in the world with a rate of only 3.2%, well below dozens of other “advanced nations,” evidence that, while a lot of people may have contracted the coronavirus in the U.S., far fewer are actually dying from it in comparison to other nations.
Aside from offering a simplistic and unnuanced view of total cases and total deaths, Sen. Harris was definitely wrong in her assertion that the U.S. has been hit harder than any other advanced nation by the pandemic. While aspects of Trump’s response to the crisis may arguably leave room from criticism, a claim that the administration’s efforts have been abject failures on the whole amounts to hyperbole at best, intentional fearmongering at worst.