Donald Trump claimed he was “getting great marks” for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, despite the US having the highest death toll in the world.
The president made the claim in a self-congratulatory tweet on Saturday morning that also criticised his predecessor Barack Obama for his administration’s response to Swine Flu.
“We are getting great marks for the handling of the CoronaVirus pandemic, especially the very early BAN of people from China, the infectious source, entering the USA,” Mr Trump wrote.
“Compare that to the Obama/Sleepy Joe disaster known as H1N1 Swine Flu. Poor marks, bad polls – didn’t have a clue!”
It is unclear what the president’s source was for the claim, but recent polls have suggested that a majority of Americans disapprove of his handling of the coronavirus. Some 51.1 percent of Americans disapprove, while 43.5 approve, according to an aggregate of polls by FiveThirtyEight.
Mr Trump is backing states across the country to reopen their economies and end lockdown measures designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus in an effort to restart the US economy. More than 20 million Americans lost their jobs in April in the worst crisis since the Great Depression. Also on Saturday, Mr Trump tweeted a picture of his Los Angeles golf course and said it was “so great to see our Country starting to open up again!”
But many public health officials have warned against reopening too early, saying it would prompt a second wave of infections.
More than 78,000 Americans have died so far from the virus — the highest death toll anywhere in the world. Around one third of those deaths have been linked to care homes, according to an analysis by the New York Times.
Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, warned states earlier this month against “leapfrogging” critical milestones that were necessary to reopen safely.
“Obviously you could get away with that, but you’re making a really significant risk,” Dr Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, he told CNN.
Dr Fauci announced Saturday that he was entering a “modified quarantine” after coming into contact with a White House staffer who tested positive for Covid-19. Several people who work in the White House have tested positive for the virus in recent days. Katie Miller, a spokesperson for vice president Mike Pence, has also tested positive, as did a military valet to president Trump.
Dr Fauci joins two other members of the coronavirus task force who are already self-quarantining: Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration Commissioner, and Director Robert Redfield, head of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.