“What is the plan to live with it while staying safe from it?” host Brian Kilmeade asked.
“Well, we are living with it,” Trump said, “and we’re having the vaccines coming out very soon. With or without the vaccines, we’re rounding the turn.”
This line that the United States is “rounding the turn,” which Trump also commonly expresses as “rounding the corner,” is no more true than the first time he said it. In fact, it may be less true. When he said it Aug. 31 — “hopefully, we’re rounding the final turn on that disaster given to us by China” — there were 6 million confirmed cases in the United States. Now, the total is more than 8.2 million. Nearly 17,000 more people have died.
On Aug. 31, the average number of daily cases had fallen by 1,100 new cases to 41,200. Over the past seven days, the average number of new cases has increased by 5,800 to almost 58,000.
Not only are most states seeing increased case totals, a number of states have reached new highs in their average new daily cases over the past week. That includes a number of states that had otherwise seen limited spread of the virus: Indiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Utah and Wisconsin among them.
To Kilmeade, Trump disparaged the way New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) had handled the pandemic. New York is faring better than any large state, ranked 47th out of the 50 states and D.C. in terms of per capita new cases.
Some of the national growth is a function of increased testing. Not all of it is, though; over the past week, the rate of positive tests is up in 35 states, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project. In 18 states, it’s up at least 1 percent.
The easiest way to show that the corner has not been rounded, though, is to show how the pandemic has progressed. The interactive below shows the daily rates of new cases and deaths relative to each state’s peak, as well as the number of new cases and deaths relative to population. It also shows positivity rates, using the same COVID Tracking Project data.
This is not a country that is rounding a corner.
It’s worth highlighting one other part of what Trump said: that with or without a vaccine, the country is rounding the turn on the pandemic. The sense in which this is true is one in which tens or hundreds of thousands more Americans die because of untreatable infections. Sure, the pandemic will burn out over time in the same sense that the fire at Notre Dame would have burned out eventually had firefighters not intervened.
Imagine Trump standing in front of that famous cathedral as flames roared through its roof. The fire department is on its way, he assures the assembled crowd, but even if it never arrives, the fire will eventually go away.
How does one translate the idiom “rounding the corner” into French? Regardless, imagine Trump insisting that this was the happy condition in which the still-burning cathedral found itself.