Don Jr. Wrongly Claims the Coronavirus Death Rate Is “Almost Nothing”

Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, falsely asserted that coronavirus deaths in the United States are down to “almost nothing” during an interview with Fox News’s Laura Ingraham on Thursday night.

Trump Jr. derided critics of his father who have noted the president’s failure to adequately address the pandemic in the U.S.

“These people are truly morons, you know what I mean?” Trump Jr. said on the program.

He belittled critics further, arguing that they were focusing on coronavirus case counts instead of death rates because it didn’t fit a supposed agenda.

“Why aren’t they talking about deaths? Because the number is almost nothing,” Trump Jr. said. “Because we’ve gotten control of this thing. We understand how it works.”

Trump Jr. is wrong. More than 234,000 Americans have died since the start of the crisis, with more than 1,000 deaths recorded in each of the past three days. The current seven-day average of new deaths sits at 828 as of October 29, a 16 percent increase from two weeks prior.

Trump Jr. is also wrong to dismiss the significance of daily case counts. This metric is important because it can indicate the likely trajectory for deaths from the virus.

For example, when the seven-day daily case average jumped up to more than 69,000 cases on July 20 (from about 27,000 daily cases on average a month prior), the seven-day average of daily deaths, which had been at 817 that same day, went up to 1,171 by August 1, a 41 percent increase. The seven-day average of daily deaths remained above 1,000 for three weeks thereafter.

The virus is clearly not under control in the U.S. either. The current seven-day daily average of new cases being reported is at 77,733 — nearly a 43 percent increase from where it stood two weeks prior. And on Thursday, the U.S. reported its highest ever rate of cases reported in a single day, exceeding 90,400 new positive diagnoses.

Experts expect both new daily cases and the rate of deaths from COVID-19 to continue trending upward in the months ahead. According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, which has been cited by the White House in the past, the U.S. total death count from coronavirus will likely reach over 328,000 by January 1.

At that time, daily death counts will reach around 2,200 per day as well, the IHME model predicts — a rate that hasn’t been seen since spring.