Fact check: Trump's refusal to take coronavirus seriously actually cost lives

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The GOP convention attempted to whitewash Trump's pandemic response and his administration's failures in slowing the spread of the virus.

The first night of the 2020 Republican National Convention highlighted Donald Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic, with a video montage listing the various ways the administration purportedly intervened to save lives and several frontline workers, some of whom contracted COVID-19, praising Trump directly (notably while standing close together without masks).

Trump has praised himself repeatedly for his coronavirus response, saying he took actions that prevented millions of deaths.

However, public health experts disagree, saying Trump wasted the entire months of January of February during which he could have taken action to slow the spread of the coronavirus, choosing instead to publicly downplay the virus and claim without any evidence that it would just "miraculously" disappear.

A Washington Post report from April said the administration wasted 70 days from Jan. 3, when it was first warned that the coronavirus posed a threat to the United States, before it finally decided to take action.

Trump often claims that his decision to close travel from China was decisive and important. However, tens of thousands of travelers had already entered the United States by the time he made that decision. And the decision still allowed in thousands of people with little to no virus screening.

According to the Post, Trump's most "consequential" error was the administration's failure to create an accurate and widely available test to identify virus outbreaks and stop them in their tracks.

For months, states lacked testing infrastructure, with Americans unable to get screened.

By the time testing capacity ramped up, it was already too late, with the virus seeded in places like New York and Washington State, which ultimately spread across the country.

As the economy tanked due to shutdowns to slow the spread of the virus, Trump grew antsy and worried about how a bad economy would impact his reelection chances. In an attempt to reverse that trend, he began pushing for states to reopen.

That push came against the advice of public health experts, and led to yet another massive spike in infections that, in turn, led to thousands more cases and deaths, coronavirus task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

"We did not shut down entirely and that’s the reason why we went up," Fauci said in July. "We started to come down and then we plateaued at a level that was really quite high, about 20,000 infections a day. Then as we started to reopen, we’re seeing the surges that we’re seeing today as we speak."

Trump's virus failures led to more than 5.4 million cases, and more than 177,000 deaths.

Those numbers give the United States the position of having both the most cases of the virus, and most deaths, of any other country in the world, according to data from John's Hopkins University.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.