President Donald Trump insisted during an interview with Fox News Sunday that the U.S. has the "lowest mortality rate" from the novel coronavirus pandemic, even as anchor Chris Wallace fact-checked the claim, pointing out that the U.S. actually has one of the "worst" fatality rates.
Trump has said multiple times over the past couple weeks that the U.S. has the "lowest" or "one of the lowest" mortality rates due to the pandemic. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany has also made the claim, but the data available to the public does not support this assessment.
Wallace confronted Trump over this fact during an interview aired Sunday morning.
"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," the anchor told Trump during the interview.
The president responded by saying he believed it was the "opposite" of what Wallace had said. "I think we have one of the lowest mortality rates in the world," Trump said.
"That's not true, sir. We had 900 deaths on a single day...," Wallace replied.
Trump then insisted that the data be checked, insisting that Wallace was wrong and suggesting he was "fake news." Wallace said that the president could check the data, and said he did not believe he was "fake news."
"You said we had the worst mortality rate in the world ... and we have the best," Trump insisted.
An analysis by Johns Hopkins University, which Wallace said was his reference, showed that the U.S. currently has the eighth highest observed case-fatality ratio of the countries most affected by the pandemic. It stood at seventh last week when the interview was filmed. That ratio shows the U.S. now has a 3.8 percent fatality rate.
The U.S. fairs worse when looking at the number of deaths per 100,000 people. As of now, more than 42 people have died for every 100,000 people in the U.S. due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel virus. That's the third highest number of the most affected countries. When compared to all countries, not just the most affected, the U.S. ranks 10th highest in terms of the number of deaths out of 100,000 people.
Meanwhile, the number of new infections in the U.S. continues to surge as deaths are rising. The U.S. continues to be the country in the world with the highest number of confirmed cases and deaths – with more than 3.7 million infections and over 140,000 deaths.
Trump told Wallace that he ultimately accepts responsibility for the U.S. response to the pandemic, but also suggested that some governors have done a poor job handling the situations in their respective states.
"Look, I take responsibility always for everything because it's ultimately my job, too. I have to get everybody in line," the president said. "Some governors have done well, some governors have done poorly. They're supposed to have supplies they didn't have. I supplied everybody."
The president's insistence that the U.S. has one of the "lowest" fatality rates wasn't the only disagreement he had with facts pointed out by Wallace during the interview. Trump also insisted falsely that his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, has called for defunding or abolishing the police. While Biden has backed some reforms, he and most Democratic lawmakers have not supported the defunding movement.
"And Biden wants to defund the police," Trump said.
Wallace replied: "Sir, he does not."
The president then became frustrated and said: "Look, he signed a charter with Bernie Sanders." Wallace interrupted, pointing out that the charter "said nothing about defunding the police."
Trump then insisted a copy of the document be brought for review. As Wallace noted in a preview of the interview, the president found "a lot of things that he objected to," but there were not any mentions of defunding or abolishing the police.
Newsweek reached out to the White House for further comment, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.