White House claims Donald Trump was ‘taken out of context’ when he suggested injecting disinfectant and curing coronavirus with ‘light’ then offers bizarre defense that he told people he isn’t a doctor
- Trump raised the possible treatments at Thursday’s White House press briefing
- He spoke after a government homeland official revealed the results of tests that showed sunlight and UV rays helped kill the coronavirus
- William Bryan is the Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology
- He said government scientists bombarded the virus with heat and light for tests
- A ‘best practices’ graphic posted at the briefing stated that ‘Heat & Humidity suppress Covid-19,’ and that they should ‘move activities outside’
- The maker of Lysol released a statement saying under ‘no circumstance’ should disinfectants be injected or consumed.
- Trump denied backing away from support for hydroxychloroquine
- ‘I’m not a doctor. But I’m like a person that has a good you know what’
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
The White House on Friday accused the media of taking President Donald Trump’s bizarre comments about injecting coronavirus patients with disinfectant ‘out of context’ and sensationalizing them.
New White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany lashed out at the media more than 12 hours after the president suggested unusual treatments for coronavirus patients – including injecting them with disinfectants found to be effective against the virus on surfaces, and exposing them to rays that can also cause it to break down.
‘President Trump has repeatedly said that Americans should consult with medical doctors regarding coronavirus treatment, a point that he emphasized again during yesterday’s briefing,’ McEnany said in a statement.
‘Leave it to the media to irresponsibly take President Trump out of context and run with negative headlines,’ she added.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany attends a coronavirus task force briefing with President Donald Trump at the White House, Saturday, April 18, 2020, in Washington
The president did note during the briefing that he is not a doctor – although he also suggested he has a special intuition on medical issues. He made the comment while speaking to William Bryan, an acting official overseeing science and technology programs at the Homeland Security Department. Bryan also is not a doctor or scientist.
‘I would like you to speak to the medical doctors to see if there’s any way that you can apply light and heat to cure. You know – but if you could. And maybe you can, maybe you can’t. Again, I say, maybe you can, maybe you can’t. I’m not a doctor. But I’m like a person that has a good you know what,’ Trump said, pointing to his head to emphasize his smarts.
Trump also sought a second opinion from Dr. Deborah Birx, a medical doctor who is coordinator of his coronavirus task force, on his idea at Thursday’s briefing. He did not get a resounding endorsement – and the White House had to correct a transcript Friday morning that implied she had backed up the suggestion.
‘Deborah, have you ever heard of that? The heat and the light, relative to certain viruses, yes, but relative to this virus?’ Trump asked Birx immediately after floating the idea.
‘Not as a treatment. I mean, certainly fever is a good thing. When you have a fever, it helps your body respond. But not as — I’ve not seen heat or (inaudible)’ according to the latest transcript.
The transcript released Thursday at about 10 pm amid the uproar had Birx responding: ‘That is a treatment.’
WAS TRUMP TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT? READ WHAT HE SAID AND MAKE YOUR OWN MIND UP
TRUMP: ‘I would like you to speak to the medical doctors to see if there’s any way that you can apply light and heat to cure. You know – but if you could. And maybe you can, maybe you can’t. Again, I say, maybe you can, maybe you can’t. I’m not a doctor. But I’m like a person that has a good you know what.
Q: ‘But, sir, you’re the President.’
TRUMP: ‘Deborah, have you ever heard of that? The heat and the light, relative to certain viruses, yes, but relative to this virus?’
DR. DEBORAH BIRX: ‘Not as a treatment. I mean, certainly fever …’
DR. BIRX: ‘is a good thing. When you have a fever, it helps your body respond. But not as – I’ve not seen heat or (inaudible).’
TRUMP: ‘I think it’s a great thing to look at. I mean, you know. Okay?’
The pushback comes as the maker of Lysol released a statement saying under ‘no circumstance’ should disinfectants be injected or consumed.
Another doctor on the coronavirus task force, Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, weighed in with his own advice in a statement on Twitter Friday.
‘A reminder to all Americans- PLEASE always talk to your health provider first before administering any treatment / medication to yourself or a loved one,’ Adams wrote.
‘Your safety is paramount, and doctors and nurses are have years of training to recommend what’s safe and effective.’ The message did not state why Adams decided to weigh in with advice to consult health professionals before administering treatment.
Trump proposed unorthodox the new treatments for the coronavirus at Thursday’s White House press briefing – including injecting cleaning agents in the body and use of ultraviolet lights.
Trump, who studied finance and real estate but touts his gut instincts about medical and scientific issues, brought up possible treatments at Thursday’s White House press briefing.
Trump asked William Bryan, a senior Homeland Security science and technology advisor: ‘Supposing we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light? And I think you said, that hasn’t been checked but you’re going to test it.
‘And then I said supposing you brought the light inside the body which you can do either through the skin or in some other way. And I think you said you’re going to test that too. Sounds interesting.’
Then he raised another possible treatment. ‘And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute, and is there a way we can do something like that? By injection inside or almost a cleaning. As you see it gets in the lungs, and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that,’ Trump said.
‘So that you’re going to have to use medical doctors. But it sounds interesting to me,’ he said.
It came after Bryan delivered a report claiming that ultraviolet rays and heat have a potent impact on the pathogen.
The ‘study’ – which was not peer-reviewed and therefore is not a fully-fledged piece of research – also uncovered that bleach can destroy the virus when isolated from saliva within five minutes, while isopropyl alcohol took just a minute to kill it.
Both of those were when the virus was outside the body.
‘It sounds interesting to me,’ Trump said Thursday, telling reporters he queried an official about whether cleaning agents could be injected into patients to fight the coronavirus
Trump’s challenger in the upcoming 2020 election Joe Biden also chimed in, advising the president to focus on testing and PPE rather than spouting wild theories
U.S. President Donald Trump reacts between acting Health and Human Services Under Secretary for Science and Technology William Bryan and Vice President Mike Pence during the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 23, 2020
A graphic on ‘best practices’ called for moving activities outside, and noted that heat and humidity hurt the virus
Despite offering hope that infections could wane with an increase in temperature towards the summer on the basis that the virus would linger in the environment for less time than at present, the study has not yet been made public and is still awaiting external evaluation.
Trump, who noted he is not a doctor on Thursday, did not guarantee results on his line of inquiry about a possible treatment.
‘So we’ll see. But the whole concept of the light, the way it kills it in one minute –that’s pretty powerful,’ he said.
Vice President Mike Pence – who is also not a doctor or a scientist – said the nation ‘could well give us a summer respite from the coronavirus.’
Bryan, whose formal title is Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology at the Department of Homeland Security, spoke about studies in a government lab. He is not a research scientist.
LYSOL MAKER: DON’T INJECT OR CONSUME DISINFECTANTS
Under ‘no circumstance’ should disinfectants be injected or consumed, the company which makes Lysol has warned, following comments made by Donald Trump.
Disinfectant manufacturer RB, the company behind the Dettol and Lysol brands, urged people not to try the method.
The company issued a statement saying: ‘Due to recent speculation and social media activity, RB has been asked whether internal administration of disinfectants may be appropriate for investigation or use as a treatment for coronavirus.
‘As a global leader in health and hygiene products, we must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route).’
It added that all its products should only be used as intended and according to usage guidelines.
It showed that temperature increases had gradually beneficial effects on cutting the ‘half-life’ of the virus, where it essentially breaks down.
But he cautioned that even if the virus dies atop playground equipment in the summer, it could still remain on surfaces that don’t get direct light or get less heat.
WHY SUNLIGHT HELPS KILL THE VIRUS – BUT IN THE ENVIRONMENT NOT IN YOUR BODY
Donald Trump’s bizarre outburst started when a Department of Homeland Security official unveiled a ‘study’ about the effect of sunlight and humidity on the virus.
Bill Bryan, a DHS official who is not a scientist, spoke about ‘research’ by its biological warfare unit into the virus.
It was hardly ground-breaking, but was intended to bolster a previous non-scientific claim by Trump: that the virus would disappear in summer.
Of course the study did no such thing, and was not peer-reviewed or published in full for scientific scrunity.
Bryan, a political appointee unconfirmed by the Senate, said: ‘Our most striking observation to date is the powerful effect that solar light appears to have on killing the virus, both on surfaces and in the air – but crucially not in the body.
‘We’ve seen a similar effect with both temperature and humidity as well, where increasing the temperature and humidity or both is generally less favorable to the virus.’
Bryan shared a slide which showed that the virus’s half-life – the time taken for it to reduce to half its amount outside the body – was 18 hours when the temperature was 70-75F (21-24C).
That was based on a 20 per cent humidity in air conditions, and the virus being found on a non-porous surface, which includes things like door handles and stainless steel.
But the half-life dropped to six hours when humidity rose to 80 per cent – and to just two minutes when sunlight was added to the equation.
When the virus was aerosolized – suspended in the air – the half-life was one hour when the temperature was 70-75F with 20 per cent humidity.
In the presence of sunlight, this dropped to just one and a half minutes, according to the slides.
In theory that means that in summer, the virus will spread less easily.
‘TRANSMISSION COULD SLOW IN THE SUMMER,’ NON-SCIENTIST CLAIMS
Bryan concluded that summer-like conditions ‘will create an environment (where) transmission can be decreased.’
He added, though, reduced spread did not mean the pathogen would be eliminated entirely and social distancing guidelines cannot be fully lifted.
Bryan said: ‘It would be irresponsible for us to say that we feel that the summer is just going to totally kill the virus.’
WHY YOU SHOULD BE SKEPTICAL
The paper itself was not immediately released for review, making it difficult for other experts to comment on how robust its methods were.
A key question will be what the intensity and wavelength of the UV light used in the experiment was.
For instance, it may have been under a setting that did not accurately mimic natural light conditions in summer.
Dr Benjamin Neuman, chair of biological sciences, Texas A&M University-Texarkana, said: ‘It would be good to know how the test was done.
‘Not that it would be done badly, just that there are several different ways to count viruses, depending on what aspect you are interested in studying.’
DO SCIENTISTS AGREE THE VIRUS IS SEASONAL?
US health authorities believe that even if COVID-19 cases slow over summer, the rate of infection is likely to increase again as winter approaches.
Transmission of flu and the common cold both drop in the summer, partly because people spend less time indoors and in close contact with others.
One Chinese study earlier this month dashed hopes that warmer weather will halt the pandemic in the northern hemisphere.
Fudan University researchers analysed the spread of coronavirus in 224 Chinese cities — including 17 in Hubei province, where the outbreak began.
The study then compared this information with daily weather data over the period between January and early March 2020.
The team found there was no significant association between either the temperature or the levels of UV exposure from sunlight and the total infection rate.
But some scientific work has also agreed that the virus fares better in cold and dry weather than it does in hot and humid conditions.
Studies from both Beihang and Tsinghua Universities found the transmission rate of COVID-19 in China fell in as the temperature grew warmer.
And the lower rate of spread in southern hemisphere countries – which were hit by outbreaks in their summer – offers proof of the theory.
Australia, for example, has had just under 7,000 confirmed cases and 77 deaths – well below many northern hemisphere nations.
The reasons are thought to include that respiratory droplets can remain airborne for longer in colder weather.
Studies also show that viruses degrade more quickly on hotter surfaces because a protective layer of fat that envelops them dries out faster.
DO OTHER STUDIES SHOW UV LIGHT CAN KILL THE VIRUS OUTSIDE THE BODY?
It has long been known that UV light has a sterilizing effect on surfaces because the radiation damages the genetic material of viruses and their ability to replicate.
Most viruses – such as SARS-CoV-2 – are covered with a thin membrane that is easily broken apart by UV rays.
A Columbia University study published in Scientific Reports two years ago showed the light can kill more than 95 per cent of pathogens like the coronavirus.
Other research, including one study by the US FDA, has shown it can work against similar coronaviruses, such as SARS.
But it was UVC – a third type of ray that humans rarely encounter from the sun due to it being filtered out in the ozone layer – that worked.
Germicidal UVC light is used in hospitals in the US as well as ones run by the NHS in the UK to clean rooms and equipment.
China adopted UVC in its fight against coronavirus, deploying it on buses and using robots to clean floors in hospital with the rays.
For the avoidance of doubt, using UV light on your hands is dangerous: it can lead to skin cancer.
WILL I CATCH THE CORONAVIRUS IF IT’S SUNNY OUTSIDE?
Basically yes, you will. The World Health Organization warns that you can catch COVID-19, ‘no matter how sunny or hot the weather is’.
Cases of the deadly virus have been recorded all over the globe, including in West Africa and the Middle-East.
Scientists agree that you are always at risk of catching the virus in the middle of an outbreak because it is indiscriminate and never sleeps.
Trump’s idea has already been lambasted by the medical community, with pulmonologist Dr Vin Gupta warning the public on NBC News that Trump’s idea could have fatal consequences: ‘This notion of injecting or ingesting any type of cleansing product into the body is irresponsible and it’s dangerous.
‘It’s a common method that people utilise when they want to kill themselves.’
Joe Biden advised the president to focus on PPE and testing, rather than wild theories: ‘UV light? Injecting disinfectant? Here’s an idea, Mr. President: more tests. Now. And protective equipment for actual medical professionals.’
Agents that are commonly used to kill the virus in the environment, bleach and isopropyl alcohol, are both toxic to the body when ingested.
Dr Gupta added that even small amounts of disinfectant can kill and that it was depressing to hear the White House spouting such dangerous ideas.
Less severe effects of ingesting bleach include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, dizziness, heart palpitations and rapid breathing, similar to symptoms of severe dehydration.
Gupta also accused the president of proposing unproven treatments.
The government’s own Food and Drug Administration warned against the consumption of disinfectants last year after a spate of deaths from people drinking a so-called Miracle Mineral Solution, which circulated as a fix for a variety of ills on social media.
John Balmes, a pulmonologist at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, added to Gupta’s warning that even inhaling chlorine bleach ‘would be absolutely the worst thing for the lungs’.
‘The airway and lungs are not made to be exposed to even an aerosol of disinfectant,’ he told Bloomberg.
‘Not even a low dilution of bleach or isopropyl alcohol is safe. It’s a totally ridiculous concept.’
The medical community unanimously took to Twitter to warn people just how dangerous taking the president’s advice could be.
Kashif Mahmood, a doctor in Charleston, West Virginia, tweeted: ‘As a physician, I can’t recommend injecting disinfectant into the lungs or using UV radiation inside the body to treat Covid-19.
‘Don’t take medical advice from Trump.’
Following Trump’s comments, disinfectant manufacturer RB, the company behind the Dettol and Lysol brands, said under ‘no circumstance’ should disinfectants be injected or consumed.
After making suggestions about cleaning agents and UV light on Thursday, Trump then mentioned moving briefings to the Rose Garden for safety. ‘To me this is a very interesting meeting.’
He said of the government lab: ‘You can call it a laboratory because that’s essentially what it is.’
Bryan is not a scientist, and has worked at the Energy Department and the Pentagon. He holds a Master of Science in strategic intelligence from the Joint Military Intelligence College in Washington, D.C. and a Bachelor of Science in logistics systems management from Colorado Technical University in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Trump also attacked the ‘fake news’ at the briefing and denied backing away from promoting hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the virus.
He has toned down his endorsements and not mentioned it as much in recent briefings.
A recent study at the VA of patients found a higher death rate for those who got hydroxychloroquine and an antibiotic.
‘It’s a great for malaria for lupus and for other things and we’ll see what it is,’ Trump said of the drug, which he once said he himself might take. He previously called it a ‘game changer’ and ordered millions of doses into the national stockpile.
At one point Trump put a question to coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, telling her: ‘I would like you to speak to the medical doctors to see if there’s any way that you can apply light and heat to cure. You know, if you could,’ he said.
Then Trump added: ‘I’m not a doctor. I am a person that has a good, you know what,’ he said, pointing to his head.
Trump also bristled at a question about whether it could be a health risk if people take the new information and decide to blow off social distancing guidelines.
‘Here we go. The new headline is Trump asks people to go outside that’s dangerous,’ the president fumed.
‘I hope people enjoy the sun and if it has an impact, that’s great,’ he said.
Trump also appeared to reference his February comments about the virus predicting it might go away by spring.
He had said: ‘Now, the virus that we’re talking about having to do — you know, a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat — as the heat comes in.
‘Typically, that will go away in April. We’re in great shape though. We have 12 cases — 11 cases, and many of them are in good shape now,’ Trump added long before the virus would kill nearly 50,000 Americans.
‘The fake news didn’t like it at all,’ Trump said of his prior comments. ‘I just threw it out as a suggestion.’
But after the study, Trump said: ‘When that surface [where virus is present] is outside, it goes away very quickly. It dies very quickly with the sun.’
A ‘best practices’ graphic posted at the briefing stated that ‘Heat & Humidity suppress Covid-19,’ and that they should ‘move activities outside’ because ‘sunlight impedes virus transmission.’
It also noted that commonly available disinfectants bleach and isopropyl alcohol ‘work to kill the virus.’
Bryan said the government was leveraging the ‘unique capability of entities [his directorate’s] national bio defense analysis and countermeasure center to study the biology of the COVID-19 virus.’
He said the bio-containment lab in Frederick, Maryland, which was established after Anthrax attacks, conducted the study. He spoke of the ‘powerful effect that solar light has on killing the virus.’
It might have a half-life of just 2 minutes on an 95 degree day with 80 percent humidity, versus 18 hours when the temperature was below 75 degrees with just 20 per cent humidity. A half-life is the period it takes for the amount of virus to be cut in half.
A Homeland Security official told reporters later that federal labs aren’t considering the treatment option Trump recommended, NBC reported.
The president’s daughter, Ivanka, also touted the study, sending out a video clip. ‘DHS Under Secretary for Science William Bryan on how the #Coronavirus dies fast when exposed to higher temperatures and solar light indicating that we will get some respite from the virus this summer,’ she wrote.
FDA WARNS AGAINST USING HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE FOR CORONAVIRUS PATIENTS OUTSIDE OF HOSPITALS BECAUSE IT CAN CAUSE HEART PROBLEMS
By Mary Kekatos for DailyMail.com
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned against using the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine on coronavirus patients outside of hospital settings or clinical trials.
President Donald Trump has hailed the drug, which also is used to treat arthritis and lupus, as a ‘game-changer’ for treating COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
The federal health agency said it was issuing the warning after several reports of abnormal heart rhythms and rapid heart rates in patients who took the medication.
‘The FDA is aware of reports of serious heart rhythm problems in patients with COVID-19 treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, often in combination with azithromycin,’ the FDA wrote in a statement issued on Friday.
‘We are also aware of increased use of these medicines through outpatient prescriptions. Therefore, we would like to remind health care professionals and patients of the known risks associated with both hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine.’
The FDA issued a statement warning doctors against using hydroxychloroquine (pictured) on coronavirus patients outside of hospital settings or clinical trials
The agency said hydroxychloroquine can still be used in clinical trials or in some hospitalized patients.
It’s not immediately clear if any trials are in progress or planned trials will be halted based on the new guidance.
President Trump was among the first to wax lyrical about the possible benefits of hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus patients last month.
‘This would be a gift from heaven, this would be a gift from God if it works,’ he said during a press conference. ‘We are going to pray to God that it does work.’
He then repeated the claims on Twitter.
‘HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine. The FDA has moved mountains – Thank You! Hopefully they will BOTH (H works better with A, International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents),’ he wrote in March.
President Donald Trump has touted the drug in as a potential ‘game-changer’ for treating coronavirus. Pictured: Trump during the White House coronavirus daily briefing, April 23
The study Trump refers to comes from Marseille, France, in which 30 patients were treated with hydroxychloroquine for 10 days combined with azithromycin, an antibiotic.
Although very small, the study ‘showed a significant reduction of the viral carriage’ after the six days and ‘much lower average carrying duration’ compared to patients who received other treatments.
One week later, the FDA issued an emergency use authorization for the drug, saying it could be used in hospitalized coronavirus patients with severe disease.
Several weeks later, the French study’s publisher said the paper ‘did not meet its standards’ because it excluded data on patients who did not respond well to the treatment.
Since then, much of the initial excitement surround hydroxychloroquine has died down.
In one study from the National Institutes of Health, 28 percent of US veterans with coronavirus who were treated with hydroxychloroquine died of the infection.
About 22 percent of those getting the anti-malaria drug plus antibiotic azithromycin died as well.
The FDA made its warning after several reports of abnormal heart rhythms and rapid heart rates in patients who took the medication. Pictured: Medics prepared to intubate a patient with COVID-19 symptoms at home
Additionally, the family of a New York woman with symptoms of COVID-19 told NBC News she died after her doctor prescribed her a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin.
The family says the physician did not confirm she had the virus nor test for heart problems before prescribing the drug.
And, earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) removed highly unusual guidance from its website informing doctors on how to prescribe hydroxychlorquine.
Initially, the CDC webpage had read: ‘Although optimal dosing and duration of hydroxychloroquine for treatment of COVID-19 are unknown, some US clinicians have reported anecdotally.’
Now the website no longer includes that information. Instead, its first sentence says: ‘There are no drugs or other therapeutics approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to prevent or treat COVID-19.’
The study on sunlight brought Trump some confrontations with members of the press, and also resulted in a briefing where the U.S. death toll approaching a critical milestone did not come up.
According to NBC, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was forced to warn Americans not to consume cleaning products last week.
‘Calls to poison centres increased sharply at the beginning of March 2020 for exposures to both cleaners and disinfectants,’ the agency’s weekly morbidity and mortality report.
The agency’s website says: ‘The FDA has received reports of consumers who have suffered from severe vomiting, severe diarrhoea, life-threatening low blood pressure caused by dehydration, and acute liver failure after drinking these products.’
The U.S. was approaching 50,000 deaths at the time of the briefing, with less than 900,000 Americans infected.
Just one in four say they trust Donald Trump’s coronavirus information – and most think he’s not listening to health experts enough
A little more than a quarter of Americans regularly trust or listen to President Trump’s information about the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
More than half also believe Trump is not following advice from public health experts enough.
Trump has made himself the daily spokesman for the nation’s coronavirus response, but new numbers suggest that Americans are taking his updates with a grain of salt.
Just 28 percent of Americans said they’re regularly getting information from Trump about the coronavirus.
And only 23 percent said they have high levels of trust in what the president is telling the public. Another 21 percent trust him a moderate amount.
Confidence in Trump is higher among his supporters, though only about half of Republicans said they have a lot of trust in Trump’s information on the pandemic – and 22 percent said they have little or no trust in what he said about the COVID-19 outbreak.
A new survey revealed just 28 percent of Americans trust President Donald Trump’s (pictured) information about the coronavirus
But even as many Republicans question Trump’s credibility during the pandemic, the overwhelming majority of them – 82 percent – said they still approve of how he’s doing.
That’s helped keep the president’s overall approval rating steady at 42 percent, about where it’s been for the past few months.
Lynn Sanchez of Jacksonville, Texas, is among those who backs Trump despite reservations about his credibility.
Sanchez, who identifies as a political independent, said she trusts ‘only a little’ of what the president said about the crisis, but believes he’s ‘doing the best he can.’
‘He’s contradicted his own health experts a couple of times. I believe he gets carried away and doesn’t sit down and think things through,’ said Sanchez, a 66-year-old retired truck stop manager.
The survey’s findings underscore Trump’s rock-solid backing from Republicans, who have been unwavering in their overall support throughout his presidency, despite reservations about his credibility and temperament.
If that support holds through the November election, Trump would still have a narrow – but feasible – path to victory.
The findings also raise questions about the value of Trump’s daily briefings from the White House during the pandemic – televised events that often paint a sunny picture of the nation’s pandemic response that runs counter to the experiences of many Americans in cities and states hard-hit by the fast-moving virus.
While the briefings are the White House’s main vehicle for getting information to the public, they frequently devolve into forums for the president to berate journalists and critics of the administration.
Trump has personally led the briefings for weeks, with a regular cast of public health officials, Cabinet secretaries and Vice President Mike Pence also taking turns updating Americans on the administration’s response to the health and economic crisis.
Many Americans said they wish Trump were listening to some of those experts more as he navigates the crisis.
Specifically, 60 percent think Trump is not listening to health experts enough.
The leading public health officials advising Trump, Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, have advocated for maintaining strict social distancing measures even as the president and some of his supporters agitate to begin reopening the economy.
The survey found the vast majority of Americans – 80 percent – continue to back orders requiring Americans to stay in their homes, and a majority doubt that it will be safe to ease restrictions soon.
There is no indication that Trump is ready to step away from the daily briefings. He regularly touts their television ratings, one of his favorite metrics for success.
And indeed, the briefings continue to be aired at length on major cable news channels each evening.
Still, this moment of national crisis, with more than 49,000 reported coronavirus deaths in the U.S. and millions of Americans losing their jobs, has done nothing to broaden the president’s appeal.
It was reported that 4.4 million Americans filed new unemployment benefit claims last week, according to the latest Labor Department figures.
Just 11 percent of Democrat said they approve of Trump’s job as president. And 84 percent of Democrats have little to no trust in information the president is providing about the pandemic.
Pictured: A patient is wheeled into Mt. Sinai Stuyvesant Hospital in Manhattan Thursday, as a new state testing program suggests that as many as one in five New Yorkers could be positive for coronavirus antibodies
The pandemic has reshaped the landscape for Trump’s reelection prospects in November, when he will face Democrat Joe Biden.
The virus’s swift spread across the country has upended the strong economy the president hoped to run on.
It could also overhaul what qualities Americans are seeking from their commander in chief.
There are few metrics in which Trump rates well with the majority of Americans, with just 17 percent of Americans said Trump is highly disciplined.
In regards to empathy – often an important intangible in presidential elections – 24 percent said Trump cares about people like them.
Trump’s highest-rated attribute is leadership. According to the survey, 32 percent of Americans said strong leader is a very good description of the president, along with 18 percent who said that describes him moderately well.
When it comes to the nation’s response to the virus, Americans are more inclined to trust and seek guidance from their state and local leaders than the president.
About half of those surveyed said they regularly get information from state and local officials and about the same amount said they have a significant trust in that information.
And thus far, a majority of Americans – 63 percent – said they approve of how states are handling the outbreak, up slightly from three weeks ago.
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