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Trump says coronavirus is 'dying out;' Dr. Sanjay Gupta says the virus is not dying

CNN's Vivian Salama and Dana Bash join The Lead.

Posted: Jun 18, 2020 8:01 AM
Updated: Jun 18, 2020 8:01 AM

A version of this article first appeared in the "Reliable Sources" newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

President Trump went on a veritable interview tour on Wednesday — Sinclair, Gray TV, the Wall Street Journal, Fox News — and was thoroughly dismissive of the coronavirus threat in at least two of the interviews.

Gray TV's DC bureau chief Jacqueline Policastro said to Trump, "Coronavirus cases are rising in 22 states, including Oklahoma, where you plan to hold a big rally this week. Aren't you worried about people getting sick?"

"No," Trump said, "because if you look, the numbers are very minuscule compared to what it was. It's dying out. By the way, we're doing very well in vaccines and therapeutics." And he went on from there.

His claim about the virus "dying out" is countered by health experts and the government's own data, which shows cases spiking across the country.

But he made another similar claim later in the day in a phone call with Fox's Sean Hannity, Trump delivered "his usual exaggeration about his travel restrictions," per CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale, and said the US will not have to close again.

"We're very close to a vaccine and we're very close to therapeutics, really good therapeutics," he said. "But even without that, I don't like to talk about that because it's fading away. It's going to fade away, but having a vaccine would be really nice and that's going to happen."

Trump's "fading away" talk echoes his February and March claims -- since disproven -- that the virus is "going away."

His new comments on Wednesday reaffirmed what CNN's White House team wrote here: "Trump has largely tuned out the persistent coronavirus contagion -- which is causing spikes in new cases across 21 states and daily death tolls that reach into the hundreds -- to focus instead on reviving both the economy and his own political prospects."

This story quoted an administration official close to the coronavirus task force as saying, "They just don't want to deal with the reality of it. They're in denial."

Here's the reality

Dr. Sanjay Gupta's viral tweetstorm informed millions of people on Wednesday. So did his numerous live shots on CNN.

Gupta rebutted Trump's "it's dying out" claim in an interview with Don Lemon, saying, "It's not going away, it's just sort of moved around the country, which was exactly what was expected. It's not dying away."

Other experts have also warned against wishful thinking about the virus.

"It does seem that the administration wants to move beyond coronavirus, but the virus isn't going to cooperate," Dr. Zeke Emanuel, a former Obama White House health policy adviser, said on CNN's "New Day." Emanuel is also on Joe Biden's public health advisory committee.

"Unfortunately, by opening up so rapidly, we have just increased the number of cases we're going to see and the number of deaths we're going to see," he said.

In other news... bombshells from Bolton's book

The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and CNN all published details from John Bolton's book on Wednesday. There are many, many takeaways, so I recommend you read the CNN team's full recap here. But the No. 1 bit of news is that Bolton claims Trump "personally asked his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, to help him win the 2020 US presidential election."

Trump allies continue to claim that Bolton revealed classified info; those arguments will be addressed in court. The Justice Department filed for a temporary restraining order on Wednesday, so there's likely to be a hearing by the end of the week. But Wednesday's leaks demonstrated that the book is already out in the open. ABC's "World News Tonight" aired an excerpt from Martha Raddatz's sit-down interview with Bolton, and "GMA" will air another clip on Thursday morning, I'm told.

"Should be executed"

Per Washington Post reporter Josh Dawsey's summary of the book's highlights and lowlights, Bolton "describes a summer 2019 meeting in New Jersey where Trump says journalists should be jailed so they have to divulge their sources: 'These people should be executed. They are scumbags,' Trump said, according to Bolton's account."

Trump calls Bolton a "washed up guy"

Oliver Darcy writes: "After discussing a few other topics first, Hannity finally got around to asking Trump about Bolton's book. Trump first responded to Bolton's allegations by saying that he has been tough on countries like China and Russia. The prez then (predictably) lashed out at his former national security advisor and said he 'broke the law' by publishing his tell-all. Characterizing Bolton as a "washed up guy," Trump said he effectively handed Bolton a favor by giving him a 'non-Senate confirmed position." Soon after, Hannity moved on from the topic..."

What is the best way to convey all of this?

Oliver Darcy writes: "Bolton's book contains a multitude of explosive allegations. And because the revelations came by way of a flood on Wednesday, versus a steady drip by drip, it's difficult for news organizations to properly explain each of the stories to their respective audiences. Some news outlets framed their stories around specific angles, like Bolton's allegation that Trump sought reelection help from China, while other outlets went with more general headlines trying to cram everything under one umbrella."

"Personally," Darcy adds, "I thought the Drudge Report did an excellent job, stacking multiple banner headlines on top of each other with several of the biggest revelations that emerged from the book. Readers skimming the site walked away with a good amount of info in just a few seconds. Compare that to other headlines which required readers to first click on the story and then invest several minutes reading it from top to bottom. It's important to remember that most people are not on Twitter all day, and laying out key points in bullet-point form — which allows the news to be easier digested — is helpful for those trying to get a grip on this wild news cycle."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 343505

Reported Deaths: 7543
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds23932444
DeSoto23229283
Harrison20527329
Rankin15411291
Jackson15232252
Madison10959227
Lee10719179
Jones9047169
Forrest8723159
Lauderdale7884244
Lowndes7054151
Lamar702989
Lafayette6548124
Washington5595139
Pearl River5196152
Bolivar4954134
Oktibbeha494398
Panola4771112
Warren4728128
Marshall4701106
Pontotoc447773
Union433279
Monroe4330137
Neshoba4281181
Hancock428088
Lincoln4176116
Pike3667113
Leflore3627125
Tate353388
Alcorn350974
Sunflower347694
Scott341176
Adams340988
Yazoo339376
Copiah324968
Simpson322891
Itawamba314680
Coahoma314085
Tippah306568
Prentiss298863
Covington293484
Leake285475
Marion284181
Wayne277543
George272251
Grenada269488
Newton262364
Tishomingo239770
Winston236784
Jasper230648
Stone229637
Attala226373
Chickasaw219060
Holmes200174
Clay197654
Clarke186880
Tallahatchie183742
Calhoun181332
Smith179235
Yalobusha171540
Walthall145748
Lawrence142826
Greene140134
Amite137543
Noxubee135235
Perry133538
Montgomery133044
Carroll126431
Webster121232
Jefferson Davis116734
Tunica114227
Benton106725
Claiborne105331
Kemper102429
Humphreys100133
Franklin87923
Quitman84719
Choctaw82619
Wilkinson78032
Jefferson71328
Sharkey51618
Issaquena1736
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 587405

Reported Deaths: 11536
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson853851591
Mobile48932864
Madison37517533
Shelby27280257
Tuscaloosa27171465
Montgomery26172627
Baldwin25399329
Lee17224181
Calhoun15401334
Morgan15170291
Etowah14954370
Marshall13116235
Houston12077293
Elmore10915219
St. Clair10763252
Limestone10725158
Cullman10546205
Lauderdale10255254
DeKalb9508192
Talladega8949188
Walker7793288
Autauga7563114
Jackson7400117
Blount7362139
Colbert6703142
Coffee6365132
Dale5650117
Russell480243
Chilton4771117
Covington4749125
Franklin458181
Tallapoosa4519156
Escambia441383
Chambers3949125
Dallas3743163
Clarke371263
Marion3463107
Pike332579
Lawrence3263100
Winston298773
Bibb290465
Geneva283983
Marengo262467
Barbour250961
Pickens245562
Butler240872
Hale235578
Fayette227065
Henry213945
Monroe202141
Randolph201144
Cherokee199248
Washington185239
Macon170552
Crenshaw168358
Clay166259
Cleburne161345
Lamar151038
Lowndes145455
Wilcox132331
Bullock126542
Conecuh121332
Coosa118329
Perry110528
Sumter110333
Greene99137
Choctaw64425
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Columbus
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The heat wave that controlled our area over the past several days is now behind us. The forecast for the next week looks a bit cooler & less humid.
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