President Donald Trump’s White House speech capping 4 July celebrations says US coronavirus strategy is ‘moving just well’
President Trump has celebrated independence day with a string of false claims attempting to play down the coronavirus pandemic and warning that China will be “held accountable”.
The US president staged a “Salute to America” jamboree on the south lawn of the White House with flyovers by military jets, parachute jumps and patriotic songs, but little effort among guests to physical distance or wearing face masks.
The country has undergone staggering changes unthinkable when Trump hosted the first such event a year ago on 4 July with tanks and other military hardware at the Lincoln Memorial. The coronavirus has infected 2.8m Americans and killed nearly 130,000, the worst tallies in the world.
Saturday’s national celebration was inevitably more subdued, but the president refused to let the pandemic or dismal poll figures rain on his parade, waving with his wife, Melania, from a White House balcony then walking the south lawn to ripples of applause and a cry of: “Four more years!”
“We got hit by the virus that came from China,” the president said, prompting a strange whoop and applause from someone in the audience. “We’ve made a lot of progress. Our strategy is moving along well. It goes out in one area, it rears back its ugly face in another area. But we’ve learned a lot. We’ve learned how to put out the flame.”
The number of infections now regularly tops 50,000 per day, higher than in April when the US was in the first grip of infections. Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, warned this week: “I think it’s pretty obvious that we are not going in the right direction.”
Trump returned to his now familiar and baseless complaint that America has a high caseload because it performs more tests. “Now we have tested almost 40m people. By so doing, we show cases, 99% of which are totally harmless. Results that no other country can show because no other country has the testing that we have, not in terms of the numbers or in terms of quality.”
It was unclear how the president arrived at the “99%” harmless figure.
He also returned to his criticisms of the source of the coronavirus. “China’s secrecy, deceptions and cover up allowed it to spread all over the world. One hundred and eighty-nine countries and China must be held fully accountable.”