WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump in recent days suddenly acknowledged the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic and edged away from some of his most audacious falsehoods about it. That’s not to say he gave the public an honest accounting.

Trump minimized the potential risk to children and those around them as he advocated reopening schools. He again marveled at the number of COVID-19 tests being performed in the U.S. even as the overwhelmed testing system crucially fails to deliver sufficient access and timely results.

And he cited a low U.S. death rate from COVID-19 compared with other countries, when the global statistics appear to contradict him.

All this while Trump canceled Republican National Convention events in Jacksonville, Florida, bowing to the reality that many Republicans were reluctant to go a state where the virus has been out of control.

Meantime his press secretary peddled false internet rumors that the “cancel culture” led to the cancellation of a cartoon about puppies.

A review of some statements from the past week:


TRUMP, on the U.S. approaching 50 million tests: “This allows us to isolate those who are infected, even those without symptoms. So we know exactly where it’s going and when it’s going to be there.” — briefing Tuesday.

THE FACTS: This is by no means true.

In many if not most parts of the country, people who manage to get a test can wait for many days for the results because labs are overwhelmed. In the meantime, those people could be and in some cases surely are spreading infection. And many people who want a test but report no symptoms can’t get one.

Some labs are taking weeks to return COVID-19 results because of the crushing workload from the surge of new cases.

“There’s been this obsession with, ‘How many tests are we doing per day?’” said Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The question is, how many tests are being done with results coming back within a day, where the individual tested is promptly isolated and their contacts are promptly warned?”


TRUMP on young people and the virus: “Now, they don’t catch it easily; they don’t bring it home easily. And if they do catch it, they get better fast. We’re looking at that fact.” — briefing Wednesday.

THE FACTS: That isn’t a fact. He doesn’t have the science to reach this broad conclusion.