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Chris Wallace challenges Trump on COVID-19 mortality rates

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  • President Trump and “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace sparred over COVID-19 mortality rates in the United States, leading Trump to accuse Wallace of being “fake news.”
  • In the interview, Trump falsely claimed that the United States has “one of the lowest mortality rates in the world” of all countries and a “#1 low mortality rate.”  
  • Wallace, however, cited Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 mortality data to show that out of the 20 worst-affected countries by COVID-19, the US ranks in seventh place with a 3.8% mortality rate.
  • “I hope you show the scenario because this is what fake news is all about,” Trump said, to which Wallace countered, “I don’t think I’m fake news.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump and “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace sparred over COVID-19 mortality rates in the United States, leading Trump to accuse Wallace of being “fake news.”

In the interview, which aired on Sunday morning, Wallace pushed back on Trump’s assertions that the United States has some of the lowest death rates from COVID-19 in the world.

Trump lamented why more attention wasn’t being paid to Mexico’s high levels of COVID-19 cases and mortality rates and claimed, without evidence, that portions of walls and fences along the US-Mexico border were helping stop the spread of COVID-19. 

“Sir, we have the seventh-highest mortality rate in the world. Our mortality rate is higher than Brazil, it’s higher than Russia, and the European Union has us on a travel ban,” Wallace pointed out, citing Johns Hopkins University mortality data. 

“Yeah. I think what we’ll do — well, we have them under travel ban too, Chris. I closed them off. If you remember, I was the one that did the European Union very early. When you talk about mortality rates, I think…we have one of the lowest mortality rates in the world,” Trump falsely claimed in the interview. 

“It’s not true sir,” Wallace countered. “We had 900 deaths on a single day this week, you can check it out.”

Trump then beckoned White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany to bring him a chart purportedly showing that the US has a “#1 low mortality rate.”  

“I hope you show the scenario because this is what fake news is all about,” Trump said.

“I don’t think I’m fake news,” Wallace countered. 

“Yeah you are,” Trump replied. “You said we have the worst mortality rate in the world.” Wallace did not say that the US had the highest mortality rate but rather that the country had the seventh-highest rate. 

 

As Wallace explained, he was citing COVID-19 mortality data from Johns Hopkins University which shows that out of the 20 countries “currently most affected by COVID-19 worldwide,” the United States ranks in seventh place in what Johns Hopkins calls the observed case-fatality ratio with a 3.8% mortality rate. The US has lower mortality than countries like the United Kingdom and Mexico but higher rates than Peru, Brazil, and Russia. 

In terms of deaths per 100,000 people, the United States ranks in third place behind the UK and Chile with 42.8 deaths per 100,000.  

The chart the White House presented, however, used data from the European Centre for Disease Control and prevention that excluded countries with lower mortality rates, like Russia, to make it appear as if the United States has one of the lowest death rates in the world. 

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