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Mark Meadows backs Trump’s claim that ‘99%’ of Covid-19 cases are ‘harmless’

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  • White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Monday backed President Donald Trump’s false claim that “99%” of coronavirus cases are “totally harmless.”
  • During his first interview since taking the role, Meadows told “Fox and Friends” that Trump was “right” to downplay the risks associated with the virus. 
  • “The vast majority of people are safe from this,” Meadows said.
  • “If you’re over 80 years of age or if you have three what they call co-morbidities … then you need to be very, very careful. Outside of that, the risks are extremely low.”
  • Trump claimed during a White House speech on Saturday that by testing millions for the coronavirus, “we show cases 99 percent of which are totally harmless.” 
  • Public health experts and local officials have rejected Trump’s claim, citing evidence that much more than 1% of those infected with the virus require hospitalization and suffer serious consequences. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Monday backed President Donald Trump’s false claim that “99%” of coronavirus cases are “totally harmless” and insisted that that “the risks [of Covid-19] are extremely low” for most people.

During his first interview since taking on his White House role, Meadows told “Fox and Friends” that Trump was “right” to downplay the risks associated with the virus. 

“I don’t even know that it’s a generalization,” Meadows said. “When you start to look at the stats and look at all the numbers that we have, the amount of testing that we have, the vast majority of people are safe from this.”

Meadows went on, “When you look at the deaths that we have, if you’re over 80 years of age or if you have three what they call co-morbidities — diabetes, hypertension, heart issues — then you need to be very, very careful. Outside of that, the risks are extremely low and the president’s right with that and the facts and the statistics back this up there.” 

The Fox hosts didn’t push back on Meadows’ statements or ask any follow-up questions. 

Trump claimed during a White House speech on Saturday that by testing millions for the coronavirus, “we show cases 99 percent of which are totally harmless.” 

Trump’s Food and Drug Administration commissioner, Stephen Hahn, on Sunday refused to say that any case of the coronavirus is “harmless.” 

“You know, any case, we don’t want to have in this country,” Hahn told ABC’s “This Week.” “This is a very rapidly moving epidemic, rapidly moving pandemic. And any death, any case is tragic. And we want to do everything we can to prevent that.”

Former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that “certainly more than one percent of people get serious illness” from contracting Covid-19. He added that between two and five percent of infected people need to be hospitalized. 

Public health officials estimate that the US death rate from the coronavirus is under 5%. Thousands of Americans under 80 years old and without the pre-existing conditions Meadows mentioned have died or suffered serious illness as a result of Covid-19. The long-term impacts of the virus are not yet fully understood. 

Local officials have also rejected Trump’s false claim. 

Austin Mayor Steve Adler told CBS News over the weekend that Trump’s claim “makes me angry.”

“I understand he has a tough job, but it is dangerous not to be sending a clear message to Americans, to folks in my town,” he said. 

Nearly 130,000 people in the US have died from Covid-19 as of Monday — significantly more than any other country, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University. 

During his interview Monday, Meadows went on to falsely claim — as the president has repeatedly done — that the surge in coronavirus cases in many regions of the country is a product of increased testing. In fact, the number of new coronavirus cases in the US is increasing more quickly than the number of new tests in hot spots, indicating that the crisis is worsening in many parts of the country. 

 

Meadows also insisted that a national mandate ordering Americans to wear face masks in public is “not in order” and said the administration is “allowing our local governors and our local mayors to weigh in on that.”

Many local leaders have called for national policies, including a national mask mandate, to contain the spread of the virus, which is growing rapidly in many states. 

Trump has refused to set an example for the nation by wearing a mask publicly, and in May said he didn’t wear a face covering during a visit to an indoor Ford plant in Michigan because he “didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it.” His suggestion that masks are unnecessary or embarrassing has helped politicize an important tool for containing Covid-19. 

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