President Joe Biden plans to acknowledge the 500,000 Americans whose lives were lost as a result of coronavirus since the pandemic began. But despite that sobering milestone being reached, there are some who want to take a sardonic tone regarding the issue.
Enter Donald Trump Jr., who on Sunday sent out a tweet with a link to his recent thoughts on the Biden administration. In the tweet itself, Trump Jr. (the son of former President Donald Trump, who lost to Biden in the 2020 presidential race last fall) suggested that Democrats and the media were being hypocritical in criticizing his father for the past year over COVID-19, but not Biden.
“The Democrats made the rules I’m just playing by them,” Trump Jr. began his tweet. “100,000 deaths in Joe Biden’s first month where is the CNN death count take her [sic]? Where is the main stream media questioning each and every decision?”
The Democrats made the rules I’m just playing by them. 100,000 deaths in Joe Biden’s first month where is the CNN death count take her? Where is the main stream media questioning each and every decision?
Watch and retweet my thoughts! https://t.co/9AIPXUnAjU
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 21, 2021
Is Trump Jr. correct to make such complaints? Let’s delve in…
How many deaths since Biden took office?
There have, indeed, been a number of deaths related to COVID since Biden became president. Much of these, however, might not be attributable to his actions — but we’ll get to that in a bit. Right now, let’s look at one aspect of Trump Jr.’s claim, and examine whether 100,000 really have died since the new president was sworn in.
From January 20 (inauguration day) to February 19 — a full 30 days of Biden being in office — there were not, in fact, 100,000 new deaths counted, per data from Worldometer.com. On Biden’s first day in office, the U.S. had accumulated 421,663 deaths due to coronavirus. By February 19, that number had gone up to 507,968.
That’s a difference of 86,305 deaths over that period of time — a sizable amount, to be sure, and one that should not be ignored. Each number in that total represents a human life lost to a virus that may have been preventable.
But when it comes to Trump Jr.’s claims, it’s incorrect.
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It’s also a notably smaller number than the 30 days preceding Biden’s entrance into the White House. From December 21 to January 20, the last 30 days of Trump Sr.’s presidency (when he barely acknowledged the pandemic, preferring instead to focus on unfounded claims regarding his election loss), there were 89,534 deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. — not a significantly huge difference from Biden’s first 30 days, but still higher than what has been seen.
Other signs of improvement
Indeed, other agencies that are observing coronavirus case and death counts in the U.S. demonstrate there are promising signs, too, of things finally going in a better direction.
The New York Times’ numbers, for instance, shows that cases per day, based on a seven-day average, have dropped in huge ways — and mostly since Biden took office.
On December 21, 30 days before Trump left office, the seven-day average was 216,163 new cases per day. By January 20, it dropped slightly to 195,064 cases per day. But 30 days after that, one month into Biden’s presidency, the seven-day average was down to just under 70,000 cases per day.
The daily average of coronavirus deaths took a slightly different path, but still, we see a big drop in numbers since Biden took over.
On December 21, there were 2,680 deaths per day on average. On Trump’s last day in office, that number actually increased to 3,056 deaths per day. But 30 days into Biden’s term, that rate is much lower, to just 1,916 deaths per day based on the seven-day average.
That’s still a rate that’s much too high — but it’s also a level we haven’t been at since the start of December, more than two months ago.
Are improvements that we’ve seen happen Biden’s doing?
Does Biden deserve “kudos” for these changes? That’s harder to say, with the likely answer being a hard “no.” The drops are not necessarily attributable to anything he’s done, although Biden has enacted a number of changes to how the White House leads on the issue.
Biden has, for example, required masks to be worn in all interstate (and international) public modes of travel (buses and airplanes, for example). He’s also required masks to be adorned in federal buildings and other properties owned by the government. And most notably, he’s led by example on masks, wearing them himself whenever out in public, a feat that Trump didn’t always accomplish (sometimes because he blatantly refused to wear one).
President Biden signed an executive order to require masks on federal property and in travel across state lines. Masks must be the norm until the vaccine is widespread enough to fully protect us and allow us to resume normal life.https://t.co/K5ZCXpqszD
— Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (@CongressmanRaja) January 22, 2021
Those moves, however, probably don’t account for the improvements seen in the past few weeks. Some of it might be due to better mask-wearing practices, and the distribution of vaccines. But some of it might also be due to data collection being awry after a series of winter storms hit most of the U.S.
Even if numbers are off for that latter reason, however, they’re probably not off in a significant enough way to warrant believing that COVID-19 numbers haven’t gone down. And certainly, Trump Jr.’s belief that Biden deserves to be blamed for deaths that have been recorded is still misguided.
Is it hypocritical to criticize Trump but not Biden?
As already pointed out, Biden hasn’t done much that would warrant blame — not only because the rate of COVID deaths is going down, but also because Biden is promoting social distancing, mask-wearing, and other methods to prevent the spread of the virus. If rates were higher, it would be in spite of what Biden has done, not because of his actions, some could argue
The same can’t be said of Trump Jr.’s father, former President Donald Trump, who seemed to actively try to thwart recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control at every opportunity he had. He hosted large rallies where masks were seldom seen. He promoted “cures” for coronavirus that weren’t based on science. He largely saw mask-wearing as a political statement against him, and made sure his followers understood it to be as well.
There’s scientific backing to suggest Trump bears some responsibility for the mess we’re in now, too. According to a study recently published in The Lancet, 40 percent of the deaths seen in the U.S. so far could have been prevented. Much of the blame belongs to America’s healthcare system more than anything else, but The Lancet made sure to point out Trump’s role in things as well:
Instead of galvanizing the U.S. populace to fight the pandemic, President Trump publicly dismissed its threat (despite privately acknowledging it), discouraged action as infection spread, and eschewed international cooperation. His refusal to develop a national strategy worsened shortages of personal protective equipment and diagnostic tests. President Trump politicized mask-wearing and school reopenings and convened indoor events attended by thousands, where masks were discouraged and physical distancing was impossible.
Another study, looking specifically at 18 campaign rallies that Trump held in 2020, found that around 700 deaths due to coronavirus in the U.S. were in all likelihood tied to those events. In short, Trump’s rallies probably killed hundreds, this study suggested.
About 40% of the nation’s coronavirus deaths could have been prevented if the United States’ average death rate matched other industrialized nations, a new Lancet Commission report found. It faulted Trump’s “inept and insufficient” response to COVID-19. https://t.co/itfxRhkQfZ
— Jon Cooper 🇺🇸 (@joncoopertweets) February 11, 2021
Biden didn’t hold such rallies. The political events he held, when he did, were spaced out, sometimes requiring people to stay in their vehicles to attend.
There may come a time when it will be hypocritical to blame Trump but not Biden for their responses to coronavirus, and the rate of death that has been seen under both. But we’re not to that point yet. No studies, nor any action by Biden in his short tenure in office so far, warrants us to reconsider looking at what Trump did (or didn’t do). And so far, it’s not proper to criticize Biden equally, because he hasn’t acted in ways that are equally controversial, when it comes to the pandemic, that Trump has.
It’s obvious that Trump Jr.’s efforts to “blame” Biden are somewhat tongue-in-cheek. He’s not actually citing a real reason to blame the current president for deaths seen in the past month — rather, he’s trying to note the hypocrisy that exists, in his mind, of the media opining on his father’s mistakes regarding the pandemic and not taking Biden to task in an equal way, when COVID-19 deaths are still fairly high under the new president’s watch.
But one has to ask themselves…is it really hypocritical? For reasons pointed out above, Trump Sr. might actually deserve some of the blame for the high rate of deaths the U.S. has seen. Biden has been in office for just over one month, and the actions he’s taken in office so far do not contradict what medical experts say should be done for reducing the spread of coronavirus.
If anything, Biden’s actions encourage others to take the virus seriously, unlike what his predecessor did. And we’re seeing numbers go down from when Trump left office, not go up.
So, let’s recap:
Trump Jr. said there were 100,000 deaths under Biden’s watch due to COVID-19 — there were a lot, but not that much.
He also said it was hypocritical for the media to not question “each and every decision” made by Biden when it did so for his father. That’s a matter of opinion — but when Biden’s actions match those of what’s being recommended by the experts, it’s not really a hypocritical action.
Rather, it showcases just how out-of-step Trump Sr. was when he was in office, particularly when it came to taking the pandemic seriously.