Crowd size. Weather. And now, face-touching.
U.S. President Donald Trump boasted (or perhaps joked) about being the coronavirus Avoider-in-Chief on Wednesday, when he declared that he hadn’t touched his face in an impossibly long time.
“I haven’t touched my face in weeks,” Trump said during a COVID-19 briefing at the White House.
Photos show that’s false. He’s touched his face many times over the last week, including at a meeting with pharmaceutical execs on Monday, where he struck a thoughtful pose for the cameras.
Taken on its own, it’s a harmless falsehood. Who cares if he lied or joked about touching his face?
But Trump is in the middle of the biggest public health crisis of his presidency, and he’s spent much of his time downplaying the threat and over-inflating his own achievements.
Trump has repeatedly tried to paint the coronavirus in classically Trumpian terms, calling it a “hoax” and a plot by the “Fake News Media” and the “Dems” to sink the stock market and his presidency.
He also tried to diminish the threat in his public remarks on Wednesday.
The virus “is affecting the airline business, as it would,” Trump said after the airline meeting. “A lot of people are staying in our country, and they’re shopping and using our hotels in this country. So from that standpoint, I think probably there is a positive impact, but there is also an impact on overseas travel, which will be fairly substantial.”
Later on Wednesday, Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity that the World Health Organization’s recorded death rate for COVID-19 was “false.”
“I think the 3.4 per cent number is really a false number,” he said. “Now, this is just my hunch.”
Trump then cited “conversations with a lot of people” who told him that there might be many mild cases that go unreported, and declared that he thinks the number is “way under one per cent.”