AP FACT CHECK: Trump's shaky claims on virus, Dem misfires

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump was impatient to return to the campaign, dubiously claiming he was fully recovered and immune to COVID-19.
Comments over the weekend closed a week that included the only 2020 Vice Presidential debate and Trump's hasty approach to put his recovery behind him and move on to campaigning for the November 3 election.
With hearings beginning Monday to confirm Supreme Court candidate Amy Coney Barrett, Senator Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, made an unfounded claim that Abraham Lincoln would have waited until after the election to fill the post if he did would have been in Trump's shoes.
A look at the claims and the reality:
TRUMP: "I'm immune ... it could be a lifetime." - Interview on Sunday on Fox News.
TRUMP: “A full and complete clearance from the White House doctors yesterday. That means I can't get it (immune) and can't give it. "- Tweet on Sunday.
THE FACTS: Far from certain, and Twitter later flagged its tweet with a fact-checking warning.
Some medical experts have been skeptical that Trump could be declared free for the risk of transmitting the virus this early in the course of his illness. Nor can he be guaranteed complete immunity after his illness.
Trump was referring to a memo released by the White House Saturday and published in the Navy Cmdr. Dr. Sean Conley said Trump had met the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria to safely break isolation and that he was no longer considered a risk of transmission under "currently accepted standards". The memo did not state that Trump tested negative for the virus.
Dr. Albert Ko, an infectious disease specialist and department head at the Yale School of Public Health, said the White House appears to be following CDC guidelines when it is appropriate to end isolation after mild to moderate cases of COVID-19.
However, Ko warned that those who had severe cases of illness should isolate for 20 days, not just 10 days like Trump did. He noted that Trump was being treated with the steroid dexamethasone, which is usually reserved for patients with severe COVID-19.
Dr. Marc Lipsitch, an infectious disease expert at Harvard School of Public Health, said the doctor's letter did not provide enough information to be sure Trump could no longer infect others. He said that Trump's use of steroids could prolong virus shedding so the CDC's 10-day standard may not be enough.
In terms of immunity, while there is evidence that re-infection is unlikely for at least three months, even in patients with a mild case of COVID-19, very few diseases leave people completely immune for life. Antibodies are only part of the body's defenses and naturally decrease over time.
"Sure, it's presumptuous to say that it's a lifetime," said Ko.
TRUMP on the pandemic: "It will go away; it will go away." - Comments Saturday.
THE FACTS: There is no sign of the virus "disappearing" or "turning a corner" as he sometimes puts it, despite Trump's repeated claims since his first claim in February of over 214,000 deaths. And it's certainly not what health advisors are saying.
"I'm sorry, but I don't have to agree," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's foremost infectious disease expert, last month when the US was seeing 40,000 cases a day. The US currently has over 57,000 new cases every day, with spikes in numerous states.
Trump made the allegation as he and several of his aides attempt to recover from the coronavirus following a possible superspreader event last month in which Trump announced his appointment of Barrett to the Supreme Court. More than two dozen people in attendance that day have since contracted the virus. Trump now plans to get back on the campaign trail on Monday, and officials have signaled Trump's intention to travel almost every day for the remainder of the campaign.
Fauci has warned that people should not underestimate the pandemic and that they "have to squat and get through this fall and winter because it won't be easy". He and other health professionals like Dr. CDC's Robert Redfield have warned of a potentially dire fall as the coronavirus and flu season are doubly threatened.
TRUMP, to those who get COVID-19. “You are better now. That happens, you get better. "- on Thursday to Fox Business.
THE FACTS: As a blanket assurance, this is obviously wrong. Most people get better. However, more than 1 million people have died from the disease worldwide, more than 214,000 in the United States. The disease can also leave many people with long-term harm that is not fully understood.
Trump's doctor, Dr. Sean Conley says Trump has shown no signs of his disease getting worse or any side effects to the aggressive course of therapy prescribed by his doctors. That doesn't mean he's over it.
TRUMP on the experimental antibodies that were administered to him: “We have a cure. ... I can tell you it's a healing and I'm talking to you today. "- Talk to Rush Limbaugh's radio show by phone on Friday.
THE FACTS: We have no cure. His testimony is premature at best and can raise false hopes. And his present condition cannot be pinpointed to any particular drug in the combination of drugs he's been given.
Antibody drugs like Trump's are among the most promising therapies being tested to treat and prevent coronavirus infections. But the drugs are still being tested. Their safety and effectiveness are not yet known.
Trump was among fewer than 10 people who could access the drug Regeneron Pharmaceuticals without signing up for a study. Eli Lilly and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. are both calling on the US government to allow the use of their antibody drugs in an emergency to help the immune system clear the virus.
Trump routinely made too much of promising developments in the pandemic, placing weight on false theories about preventing and treating the disease, while denying the importance of real preventive measures like wearing a mask and avoiding groups of people.
TRUMP: “The flu season is just around the corner! Many people die of flu every year, sometimes over 100,000, despite the vaccine. Are we going to close our country? No, we learned to live with it just as we learn to live with Covid, far less fatal in most populations !!! “- tweet Tuesday.
THE FACTS: He contradicts science and himself.
First, he overestimates the US death toll from seasonal flu. The flu has killed 12,000 to 61,000 Americans annually since 2010, not 100,000, a benchmark seldom reached in US history. More than 214,000 Americans have died from COVID-19.
Second, health officials largely agree that the coronavirus appears to be at least many times more deadly than the seasonal flu. Once Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health told Congress it could be up to ten times more deadly.
"There is absolutely no doubt, no doubt that this COVID-19 ... is far more serious than seasonal flu, there is no doubt about it," Fauci told MSNBC last week.
Trump's tweet also contradicts what he told author Bob Woodward in February that the virus was even more deadly than "your exhausting river," despite publicly hinting that the pandemic was comparable to flu season. "This is deadly stuff," he told the author.
HARRIS cited a precedent for waiting to be filled on the Supreme Court until after the November election: "Abraham Lincoln was up for re-election and it was 27 days before the election and a seat on the United States Supreme Court became open. Abraham Lincoln's party was responsible not only in the White House but also in the Senate. But the honest Abe said it wasn't the right thing to do. The American people deserve to make the decision about who will be the next President of the United States, and then that person can choose who will serve in Supreme Court for a lifetime. "- Vice-Presidential Debate on Wednesday.
THE FACTS: Your claim is unsupported.
It is true that Lincoln did not immediately announce a nomination after Chief Justice Roger Taney died on October 12, 1864, just 27 days before the presidential election.
But there is no evidence that Lincoln said anything as Harris described it. His reasons for delaying a nomination remain unclear.
"I would describe Senator Harris' interpretation as fanciful based on no evidence I've seen in my 36 years researching and writing Lincoln," said Michael Burlingame, the prestigious Chair of Lincoln Studies at the University of Illinois Springfield.
Burlingame told The Associated Press in an email on Saturday that Lincoln had actually postponed a nomination for more practical reasons - the Senate had not been in for months when Taney died, and it wasn't planned to post him until December after the Election back together.
With his reelection chances already high, Lincoln delayed announcing his election of Salmon Chase, a political rival known for his anti-slavery views, to avoid insulting conservatives and moderates before the election, the Chase “radicals “Burlingame did not share Republican views.
Republicans are pushing the hearings on Monday for Barrett, Trump's election to replace the late Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away last month. Democrats say the Senate should wait until after the November 3rd election for the presidential winner to fill the job. Obviously they hope the winner will be Joe Biden.
TRUMP on the democratic criticism that he has no plan to protect people with pre-existing conditions: "You know this is wrong. ... We will protect people with pre-existing conditions and they will spend a lot less money on new health care Pay. "- Interview Sunday on Fox News.
THE FACTS: No, there is no clear plan. People with pre-existing conditions are already protected by the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, and if the Trump administration manages to convince the Supreme Court to overturn it, those protections will be at risk.
Trump has signed an executive order outlining the U.S. government's policy to protect people with pre-existing conditions. However, he would have to return to Congress to work out laws to replace these "Obamacare" provisions.
Various Republican approaches offered in 2017 would have undermined protection in the ACA, and Trump has not offered any details on how his plan would work. Despite having been in office for nearly four years, Trump has yet to flesh out the comprehensive health care proposal he once promised.
TRUMP: “The country is doing well. We look like a Super-V. "- Fox Interview Sunday.
THE FACTS: Not like that.
It's too early to know how to recover - things are still fragile.
The Trump administration could point to the stock market and argue a recovery that resembles a "V". But monthly job gains have slowly slowed, suggesting that the recovery is fading without additional government help. Significant numbers of the poorest Americans have yet to return to work, while the wealthy are better off. This has led some economists to say that the US is indeed in a “K-shaped” recovery, with paths diverging between the richest and the poorest.
What is clear is that nearly $ 3 trillion in government aid cushioned the blow from the recession. About two-thirds of Americans rated their personal finances as good when polled by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs, as direct controls and expanded unemployment benefits helped. However, these benefits have been exhausted and cast doubt on the development of the economy.
TRUMP about Biden: "He gets up and says we don't frack. We don't frack. He fracked. He fracked for six months. He raised his - his very thin hand and he fracked. And now he's suddenly no longer fracked .. . It's ridiculous. He said he's not fracking. "- Thursday to Fox News.
THE FACTS: It's okay to be very confused about this.
What Trump was trying to say is that Biden was considering banning fracking even though the president had skipped the part about the ban in his comment. Biden said in a primary democratic debate in 2019 that he would ban fracking, but his campaign was quick to say he spelled wrong and corrected the record. Biden supports banning new oil and gas leases on public land, but says he does not want a fracking ban and believes such a ban is likely impossible.
Trump added at the end of further fracking allegations: "They will stop fracking as soon as they take office." That is wrong, but it is the accusation that Trump made earlier.
Biden did not flip-flop, but rather weakened his position at an event, it said in his campaign.
Democrats are divided on fracking, and not all of them appreciated the clarity Harris brought on the matter in the Vice-Presidential debate when she firmly stated that a Biden administration would not ban fracking.
"Fracking is actually bad," tweeted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
PENCE: “You two have made repeated commitments to phasing out fossil fuels and banning fracking. ... President Trump made it clear that we will continue to listen to the science about climate change.
THE FACTS: Not only is Pence wrong about Biden's position on fracking, but he is wrong to say that Trump is following the science about climate change. Noticeably he doesn't do that.
Trump's public statements as president all disapprove of the science about climate change - that it is caused by people who burn fossil fuels and that it is deteriorating badly. As recently as last month, Trump said, "I don't think science knows" what it's all about when it comes to global warming and the worsening of wildfires, hurricanes and other natural disasters that it causes. He has ridiculed science in many public comments and tweets.
As for its actions, its legislative cut has eliminated major Obama-era efforts to reduce fossil fuel emissions.
Pence is right when he says Harris supported the fracking ban. At that time she ran for president.
Speaking at a CNN City Hall for Democratic presidential candidates last year, Harris said, "No question, I'm in favor of banning fracking. Starting with what we can do in public spaces from day one." Now, as Biden's runner-up, is tied them to his agenda, which is different.
PENCE: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration “tells us that difficult as they are, there are no more hurricanes today than there were 100 years ago, but many of the climate alarmists use hurricanes and forest fires to sell a bill for goods. "
THE FACTS: It eludes what science actually says about climate change and hurricanes. The main studies do not claim that the earth is seeing more hurricanes than it did a century ago. They find that today's hurricanes are worse because of the warming climate.
Research shows that the intensification of storms in the Atlantic has increased enormously since the 1980s, and the only explanation is man-made climate change.
An analysis of 167 years of federal storm data by The Associated Press in 2017 found that in no 30-year period in history have so many large hurricanes with winds in excess of 110 mph on those many days of whoppers spinning in the Atlantic occurred are so much total energy created by these powerful storms.
Such insights are what alarm scientists and part of what Pence calls an alarmist.
PENCE: “Joe Biden would like to come back to the economic surrender to China. When we took office, half of our international trade deficit was with China alone. And Joe Biden wants to lift all tariffs that President Trump put in place to fight for American jobs and American workers. "
THE FACTS: The tariffs were not the profit Pence was asking for.
For starters, tariffs are taxes that consumers and businesses pay through higher prices. So Pence defends tax hikes. The tariffs against China led to a decrease in the trade deficit with China in 2019. However, this is a Pyrrhic victory at best, as U.S. economic growth slowed from 3% to 2.2% due to trade uncertainty.
More importantly, the Trump administration has not reduced the overall trade imbalance. For all trading partners, the government said the trade deficit was $ 576.9 billion last year, nearly $ 100 billion more than last year of Barack Obama's presidency.
HARRIS on Trump's tax cuts: "On the first day, Joe Biden will take this tax bill off."
THE FACTS: No, Biden isn't suggesting that. He would keep some of it. He cannot repeal a law on his own, let alone on his first day in office. Harris also said Biden would not levy taxes on people who earn less than $ 400,000. If he were to overturn Trump's tax cuts across the board, he would break that promise.
PENCE, on September 26th in the Rosengarten, after more than 11 participants tested positive for COVID-19: "It was an outdoor event that all of our scientists regularly and routinely advise."
THE FACTS: His suggestion that the event follow the recommendations on public health safety is wrong. The event, which featured Supreme Court candidate Amy Coney Barrett, attracted more than 150 people and violated safety recommendations in a number of ways. And it wasn't all outside.
"We had a super spreader event at the White House," Fauci told CBS Radio News. "And it was in a situation where people were huddled together and not wearing masks."
Large gatherings of people who have traveled from outside the area and are not at least three feet apart pose the greatest risk for the virus to spread, according to the CDC.
This is exactly the type of high risk event that the White House hosted.
The guests sat close together, not three feet apart, in rows of chairs outside. Many were caught on a camera clapping their backs, shaking hands and talking, barely at arm's length.
The CDC also "strongly encourages" people to wear masks, but few in the rose garden wore them. After the Rose Garden ceremony, there was also a private reception at the White House where some politicians, including North Carolina Republican Senator Thom Tillis, who has since tested positive, were depicted without a mask.
HARRIS on the virus: "The President said it was a joke."
THE FACTS: This is misleading.
It relates to a February 28 rally in South Carolina where Trump said the sentences "coronavirus" and "this is your new joke" at various points. Although its meaning is difficult to see, the broader context of his words reveals that he railed against Democrats for denouncing his administration's coronavirus response.
"Now the Democrats are politicizing the corona virus," he said at the rally. "You know that, don't you? Coronavirus. They politicize it." He snaked briefly on the subject of the chaotic Democratic Elementary School in Iowa, then the Russia investigation, before returning to the pandemic. “You tried the impeachment fraud. ... and this is your new joke. "
Trump was asked at a press conference the day after the rally to clarify his remarks and said he was not calling the coronavirus itself a joke.
"No no no." he said. "" Hoax "refers to the actions they are taking to force this on someone because we did such a good job. The joke is on them, isn't - I'm not talking about what's going on here. I am talking about what they are doing . That's the joke. "
HARRIS on the effects of the pandemic: "Every fifth company is closed."
THE FACTS: That is not right now. We don't yet know how many companies have closed permanently - or could do so in the coming months.
What we do know is that the National Federation of Independent Business said in August that one in five small businesses will close if economic conditions don't improve in the next six months.
Many small businesses survived in part due to the unsuccessful loans from the Payroll Protection Program. Bigger employers like Disney and Allstate Insurance have announced layoffs, as have major airlines. Restaurants that weathered the pandemic by eating outdoors will soon face the challenge of the cold weather. So it's too early to say how many companies have or will be closed.
Associated press writers Josh Boak, Ellen Knickmeyer, Seth Borenstein, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Colleen Long and Amanda Seitz contributed to this report.
Editor's Note - A look at the veracity of claims made by political figures.
AP Fact Checks can be found at http://apnews.com/APFactCheck
Follow @APFactCheck on Twitter: https://twitter.com/APFactCheck

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