President Donald Trump told a crowd of his supporters in Swanton, Ohio Monday evening that the coronavirus—which has killed around 200,000 people and infected nearly seven million in the U.S. alone—”affects virtually nobody” except “elderly people,” a blatant falsehood that critics said underscores the president’s view of certain segments of the population as expendable.
“It affects elderly people, elderly people with heart problems and other problems. If they have other problems, that’s what it really affects, that’s it,” Trump said, flatly contradicting his private admission that “plenty of young people” have been impacted by Covid-19. “You know, in some states thousands of people—nobody young, below the age of 18. Like, nobody. They have a strong immune system, who knows? You look—take your hat off to the young, because they have a hell of an immune system.”
“But,” the president continued, “it affects virtually nobody. It’s an amazing thing. By the way, open your schools. Everybody open your schools.”
"It affects virtually nobody," Trump says of the coronavirus, which has now killed 200,000 Americans and counting pic.twitter.com/qHrZvUWNhX
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 22, 2020
On top of dismissing the real risks coronavirus poses to young people—including students returning to in-person classes this fall—the president’s remarks show that “Trump thinks that the lives of seniors (or in his words, ‘elderly people’) are disposable,” said advocacy group Social Security Works.
“He is flat out wrong,” the group tweeted late Monday. “Every life is precious, and that’s why we need a president with a real plan to combat the coronavirus pandemic.”
The majority of U.S. coronavirus deaths have been among people aged 65 or older, but CDC data shows that nearly 40,000 Americans under the age of 65 have also died of Covid-19—including hundreds between the ages of 15 and 24. And, of course, the death toll doesn’t include the thousands of younger people who have been seriously sickened and hospitalized by the virus.
“If you, or a family member, or a friend got sick or died of Covid-19, to Trump you are ‘virtually nobody,'” said climate scientist Peter Gleick.
Trump’s latest attempt to publicly downplay the severity of the pandemic came as nearly 1,000 Americans continue to lose their lives to Covid-19 each day, bringing the total U.S. death toll to around 200,000.
As the president on Monday gave himself an “A+” grade for his handling of the coronavirus crisis, Reuters reported that “the University of Washington’s health institute is forecasting coronavirus fatalities reaching 378,000 by the end of 2020, with the daily death toll skyrocketing to 3,000 per day in December.”