“I’ve gone to your rallies. I’ve talked to your people. They love you. They listen to you. They listen to every word you say. They hang on your every word,” Swan said. “And so when they hear you say, ‘everything’s under control. Don’t worry about wearing masks,’ I mean, these are people — many of them are older people.”
“Well, what’s your definition of control?” Trump replied, adding: “I think it’s under control.”
“How? A thousand Americans are dying a day,” Swan said.
“They are dying. That’s true. And you — it is what it is,” Trump said emphatically. “But that doesn’t mean we aren’t doing everything we can. It’s under control as much as you can control it.”
When pressed on the US death toll in the Axios interview, Trump repeatedly pointed to the proportion of deaths to confirmed coronavirus cases, rather than the proportion of deaths to the US population, a figure that is arguably more telling of the state of the pandemic in the country given that the US has less than 5% of the world’s population but around 25% of global deaths from Covid-19.
“Well, right here, United States is lowest in numerous categories. We’re lower than the world, we’re lower than Europe,” Trump said as he sorted through pages of charts, handing one to Swan. “Take a look, right here — here’s case death.”
“Oh, you’re doing death as a proportion of cases. I’m talking about death as a proportion of population. That’s where the US Is really bad,” Swan said.
“You can’t do that … you have to go by the cases. The cases of death,” Trump argued.
“It’s surely a relevant statistic to say if the US has X population and X percentage of death of that population, versus South Korea,” Swan later said, to which Trump replied: “No, because you have to go by the cases.”
CNN’s Stephen Collinson, Christina Maxouris, Holly Yan and Dakin Andone contributed to this report.