Covid-19 has spread from China, but much of the “infodemic” comes from the White House.
President Donald Trump is the world’s largest disseminator of coronavirus disinformation, according to a new study from Cornell University.
Almost 38% of the “disinformation conversation” started with Trump doing things such as promoting unproven “miracle cures” for Covid-19 or claiming without any evidence that the pandemic was a “Democratic Party hoax” aimed at to derail his presidency, researchers from the Cornell Alliance for Science was found.
Talking like that is dangerous, said Sarah Evanega, director of the alliance.
“We were interested in exploring this issue because the World Health Organization identified disinformation about Covid, which it called an ‘infodemic’, as a serious concern in the fight against the pandemic,” he said. she declared. “If people are misled by unscientific and unsubstantiated disease claims, they may be less likely to follow official guidelines and thus risk spreading the disease.”
In other coronavirus developments:
- Cruise ships will be banned from operating in U.S. waters for at least a month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Nearly 3,700 confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19 on cruise ships in the United States have been reported to the CDC since March 1 and at least 41 people have died, the agency said.
- About 837,000 people first applied for unemployment benefits last week as the pandemic-stricken US economy continued to struggle. The unemployment rate was 4.8% when Trump took office in January 2017. It is 8.4% now.
- Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves has announced that he will not extend his mask-wearing tenure even though his state has the nation’s fourth highest rate of new infections at 17.8%, according to the Research Center on the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus. “We shouldn’t be using the government’s heavy hand more than warranted,” Reeves said.
- Hospitals in areas of Wisconsin, where the number of coronavirus cases recently increased, are running out of beds for patients. In Green Bay, where Trump is supposed to hold a campaign rally on Saturday, the Bellin Hospital is said to have already reached 94% of its capacity. Wisconsin is currently the state with the third highest rate of new infections at 21.14%, according to Johns Hopkins.
- White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said Trump had no plans to cancel the Green Bay rally, even though the governor of Wisconsin urged the president to reconsider his decision. “Yeah, so the president thinks people have a first amendment right to speak in politics,” McEnany said. “He’s organizing a rally. People can choose to come or not.
- Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican who has received bipartisan praise for aggressively attacking the pandemic, reported that for the first time in 187 days, the state recorded “zero new deaths from Covid-19.”
- Pennsylvania federal appeals court said Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf could resume enforcement of height limits at rallies while appealing an earlier lower court ruling by a federal judge named by Trump who rejected statewide crowd size limits and other measures to stop the virus from spreading.
- New York, which was once the country’s hotspot, reported more than 1,300 new cases on Thursday. This is the most since May. As the state continues to maintain an infection rate below 2%, clusters of new cases of Covid-19 have been reported in Brooklyn, Queens and Rockland County. People in New York City who refuse to wear masks could face fines of up to $ 1,000.
The Cornell study, released Thursday, appears to be the first comprehensive review of pandemic disinformation in the media, and the researchers reached their conclusions after using a content aggregator to analyze 38 million articles on Covid-19 from English language media around the world.
They found that Trump caused major “spikes” in disinformation when he talked about using bleach to cure Covid-19 or when he advocated unproven treatments like hydroxychloroquine.
Trump’s misrepresentation of the pandemic created by the “deep state” to install a “new world order” was also a major driver of disinformation. As is the president’s promotion of conspiracy theories that Covid-19 was a biological weapon that was “intentionally or accidentally released by a laboratory in Wuhan, China.”
Much of Trump’s false information about Covid-19 was broadcast during his coronavirus press briefings, which he dropped in April after his advisers warned they were undermining his poll results. He called these briefings “very successful” while touting a high number of viewers.
Evanega said the media was partly responsible for spreading Trump’s false claims about Covid-19.
“Unwittingly or not, the media plays a major role in spreading disinformation because it amplifies the voices of prominent figures, even if these sources are incorrect,” Evanega said.
NBC News has been verifying Trump’s facts since the start of the pandemic, including in July, when the president gave his first press briefing on Covid-19 in months. He has consistently overestimated his administration’s response to the crisis that has now killed 208,208 people in the United States and created the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
There was no immediate response to the White House study, but Trump has generally dismissed any criticism as “fake news.”
Olivia Troye, a former White House coronavirus task force adviser turned whistleblower, said she was not shocked by the findings of the Cornell study.
“This is exactly what I saw everyday,” Troye said on MSBNC. “We were meeting as a working group, and the president would come out and say something very contradictory to what the experts and the doctors were telling him.
The study was not the first time Trump has been accused of spreading false information about the pandemic and lying to the American public about the true extent of the coronavirus crisis.
According to a recently published book, Trump was filmed telling reporter Bob Woodward in February that Covid-19 was ‘a deadly thing’ but then continued to downplay the danger in public statements and politicized the use of masks by refusing months to wear one in public.
Trump also continues to insist that his administration has done a “phenomenal job” even though the United States leads the world in the number of deaths and infections from Covid-19 (7,270,398), according to the latest NBC News count.