How many times can President Donald Trump spread falsehoods about COVID-19? Well, to quote the great Cady Heron, "the limit does not exist." Yesterday, at a rally full of (mostly maskless) supporters in Ohio, Trump once again proved he’s in his own reality when he explained that only older people and people with underlying conditions need to be concerned about the virus.
“It affects elderly people, elderly people with heart problems and other problems. That’s what it really affects. In some states, thousands of people — nobody young,” Trump said to the crowd. “Below the age of 18, like, nobody. They have a strong immune system, who knows? Take your hat off to the young, because they have a hell of an immune system. But it affects virtually nobody. It’s an amazing thing.”
Despite what Trump says about this "amazing thing," data has proven time and time again that no one is an exception — not even young people. Although it is more likely to be fatal to older people, as well as immunocompromised and disabled people, it’s still taken a toll on younger people. Children under 18 currently represent approximately 10% of cases in the United States. Over 500,000 children have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the U.S. alone, according to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
"These numbers are a chilling reminder of why we need to take this virus seriously," said American Academy of Pediatrics President Dr. Sally Goza. "While much remains unknown about COVID-19, we do know that the spread among children reflects what is happening in the broader communities."
In August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report that coronavirus cases among children under 18 had increased “steadily” since March. Between August 20 and September 3, there were 70,630 new child cases reported — a 16% increase in cases in just two weeks. Furthermore, cases have continued to skyrocket in many parts of the country as schools have re-opened, with many having to shut down again due to young students and teachers immediately getting sick. Despite this, on Monday, Trump repeated, “Open your schools, everybody open your schools.”
This isn’t the first time Trump has done this, of course. Last month, Facebook even had to censor him for saying children are "almost immune" to the virus. He’s continued to flip-flop on how seriously people should take the pandemic, while still claiming he hasn’t attempted to downplay it. All the while, he’s continually tried to redirect public attention towards how Obama handled swine flu, which only amounted to about 12,000 deaths in the U.S., compared to coronavirus' 200,000.
At this point, it's up to public health officials and other experts to warn Americans about the real dangers of COVID-19, since the president clearly lives in another reality. And although there will be a vaccine available for COVID-19 at some point in the near distant future, there’s no cure for willful ignorance — except maybe to watch fewer hours of Fox and Friends.