A new interview with President Trump reveals him having a confusing argumentwith an Axios reporter about coronavirus testing in the United States and insinuating that South Korea might not be revealing its full number of virus deaths.
In Monday’s episode of HBO series AXIOS on HBO, the outlet’s national political correspondent Jonathan Swan sat down with Trump to discuss the coronavirus pandemic, the upcoming election and other topics.
It’s while discussing the pandemic that the interview takes a confusing turn, appearing to thoroughly shock Swan, as seen in a clip posted on Twitter.
.@jonathanvswan: “Oh, you’re doing death as a proportion of cases. I’m talking about death as a proportion of population. That’s where the U.S. is really bad. Much worse than South Korea, Germany, etc.”@realdonaldtrump: “You can’t do that.”
Swan: “Why can’t I do that?” pic.twitter.com/MStySfkV39
— Axios (@axios) August 4, 2020
President Trump (pictured) and AXIOS national political correspondent Jonathan Swan got into an argument over coronavirus statistics in a new interview that aired Monday
Trump shows Swan a series of charts and graphs to illustrate his claim that America is ‘lower than the world’ when it comes to various coronavirus categories.
A confused Swan interrupts Trump to say, ‘Lower than the world? What does that mean? In what? In what?’
Trump then hands Swan some of the charts he’s been paging through, which Swan scrutinizes and then realizes that they’ve been talking about different sets of statistics.
‘Oh, you’re doing death as a proportion of cases. I’m talking about death as a proportion of population. That’s where the U.S. is really bad. Much worse than South Korea, Germany, etc,’ Swan says.
Trump responds: ‘You can’t do that.’
‘Why can’t I do that?’ Swan fires back.
‘You have to go by where – look, here is the United States,’ Trump says, holding out of his charts. ‘You have to go by the cases.’
‘Why not as a proportion of the population?’ Swan says.
Swan (right) appeared to be surprised and confused by various claims Trump made, leading to the two of them arguing over statistics
At one point in the interview, Trump suggested that South Korea might not be fully reporting the number of coronavirus deaths, a claim that surprised Swan
‘What it says is that when you have someone where there’s a case, the people that live from those cases,’ Trump tries to explain.
Swan, who doesn’t seem to be buying the explanation, says that it’s ‘surely relevant’ to consider the statistics involving the number of deaths compared to a country’s population, while Trump insists that ‘You have to go by the cases.’
Swan then points to South Korea, which he says has a population of 51million, but only 300 coronavirus deaths.
‘You don’t know that,’ Trump says.
Swan, expressing surprise, says: ‘You think they’re faking their statistics? South Korea, an advanced country?’
Trump then demurs, ‘I won’t get into that because we have a very good relationship with the country. But you don’t know that. And they have spikes.’
The conversation then moves on to a discussion of the fact that America currently does more testing than other countries, which Trump says is part of what accounts for why the US is reporting so many coronavirus cases.
‘Don’t we get credit for that?’ Trump asks, eventually noting that ‘Death is way down from where it was’ and claims that ‘Where it was is much higher than where it is right now.’
Swan, however, says that the number of coronavirus cases in the US ‘went down then it went up again.’
‘But now it’s going down again. It’s going down in Arizona. It’s going down in Florida. It’s going down in Texas.’
Swan, who had pointed out that it’s national numbers that had gone down, takes a moment to realize that Trump had said that the case number was going down in Florida.
‘It’s going down in Florida?’ Swan says, full of disbelief.
Florida had been among the states to have experienced a sudden, exponential resurgence in coronavirus cases after the state reopened quickly.
‘Yeah it leveled out and it’s going down, that’s my report as of yesterday,’ Trump said.
It was not immediately clear what day Trump’s latest reports were referring to.
However, the Florida Department of Health reported Monday that 4,752 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in the state, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 491,884.
Tampa Bay Times reported that that was the lowest number of daily infections reported since mid-June and about half the average number of new positive infections reported daily from the prior week.
It was also said to be the second straight day of lower infections reported in the state.