'I don't know what he was talking about,' the South Carolina senator said of Trump's recent lies about the outbreak.
Donald Trump's lies about the current COVID-19 outbreak have become so egregious that even one of his most loyal supporters in Congress is calling him out on it.
"I would encourage the president, if he's going to report things, to make sure the science is behind what he says," Graham told CNN on Thursday morning.
Graham was fielding questions about Trump's most recent claim about the outbreak, in which he falsely claimed the death rate was lower than 1%.
"I don't know what he was talking about but I listen to the scientists when it comes to the numbers," Graham added.
Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity Wednesday night that the 3.4% death rate established by the World Health Organization is "really a false number," and it was closer to 1%. He provided no evidence to back that claim.
"We have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better just by sitting around, even going to work. Some of them go to work, but they get better," Trump said.
He continued, "And then when you do have a death like you had in the state of Washington, like you had in the state of California, I believe you had one in New York, all of a sudden it seems like 3 or 4%, which seems like a very high number, as opposed to a fraction of 1%."
As COVID-19, the disease caused by the strain of coronavirus that originated in China, has spread across the globe, Trump has repeatedly misled the public about the growing threat.
At a Feb. 26 press conference about the outbreak, Trump downplayed the danger, comparing it to the common flu.
"The flu in our country kills from 25,000 people to 69,000 people a year, that was shocking to me. And so far if you look at what we have with the 15 people, and they are recovering," he said.
More than 100 people in the United States have been infected with the disease so far, and nearly a dozen have died.
At a March 2 rally, Trump made false claims about how quickly scientists could create and distribute a vaccine, despite being told by his own advisers that a vaccine is more than a year away.
And earlier in February, Trump referred to the outbreak as a "hoax," something high-ranking officials in his own administration refused to contradict. After the media reported on his comments, Trump claimed he was referring only to Democrats who he claimed were "politicizing" the outbreak.
According to a March 4 WHO report, there are at least 93,090 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide. So far, approximately 2,984 people have died from the disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most Americans are at low risk of exposure. Nonetheless, national, state, and local health experts are preparing for the virus to spread into more communities.
Symptoms of the disease include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, and may appear between two and 14 days after exposure.
As a general prevention technique, the CDC recommends frequent hand-washing for 20 seconds using soap and warm water, or hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
People are also advised to frequently clean high-touch surfaces (such as tables, phones, and doorknobs) with proper cleaning products, and to avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.