Trump downplays Covid as cases soar

Josephine Tovey
·5-min read
<span>Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Welcome to today’s US election briefing for Australia.

To get a sense of how catastrophic the coronavirus pandemic is in America, just compare Victoria with a US state of roughly the same population size – like Indiana. While Australians heaved a sigh of relief as new daily Covid infections in Victoria dropped to single digits over the weekend, Indiana reported a new record of 2,521 cases on Saturday.

America is experiencing a dramatic resurgence of the virus as the last two weeks of the election campaign approaches. There are more than 55,000 new cases a day across the country, and cases are rising in most states – only two recorded falls in the past week – a disturbing trend heading into the colder months.

Donald Trump’s handling of the Covid crisis is a serious weak point with voters, polls suggest, so it is little surprise he continues to downplay the resurgence. The president has said repeatedly in recent days the US has “turned a corner” on the virus, and used his own apparent Covid recovery to frame the disease as entirely surmountable. He struck an often upbeat tone at his rallies over the weekend, where social distancing protocols were largely ignored and crowds often seen without masks. You can read our full report on his weekend of campaigning here.

As the final stretch of the campaign approaches though, the reality of the pandemic is becoming increasingly difficult to deny.

The big stories

The Boogaloo Boys hold a rally at the Capitol Building in Lansing, Michigan, on Sunday.
The Boogaloo Boys hold a rally at the Capitol Building in Lansing, Michigan, on Sunday. Photograph: Seth Herald/Getty Images

The Michigan governor, who was the subject of a rightwing plot to kidnap and possibly kill her, has accused Trump of “inspiring and incentivising domestic terrorism”. Trump targeted Gretchen Whitmer several times at a recent rally.

From Michigan to California, the idea of armed insurrection has become increasingly pervasive in American politics, and US lawmakers have failed to challenge it for decades. This fascinating interview looks at the growth of this movement.

Black voters in North Carolina are disproportionately having their mail-in ballots flagged for potential rejection in the battleground state, setting off alarms about disenfranchisement.

The virus and what it is doing to the economy spell trouble for Trump’s reelection hopes in Wisconsin. This article looks at the close race in the state that ended Hillary Clinton’s presidential chances in 2016.

“The Democratic party left us.” Though the state of Minnesota is swinging behind Biden, many in rural counties are backing Trumpthis feature explores why.

The US remains the top power in the Indo-Pacific but has suffered the biggest relative fall in its standing in the region over the past year, partly because of the loss of prestige over the mishandling of Covid-19, according to the Lowy Institute’s Asia Power Index.

Quote of the day

That’s sad – the very fact that a public health message to save lives triggers such venom and animosity to me, that it results in real and credible threats to my life and my safety.

US top disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci reveals he now must go walking with a federal agent for security because of the harassment and threats targeting his family.

Election views

Donald Trump speaks during a rally at Carson City Airport in Nevada.
Donald Trump speaks during a rally at Carson City Airport in Nevada. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

“Trump’s actions have emboldened Australia to be less ambitious on climate,” says Michael Mann, with Scott Morrison following Trump’s lead in promoting climate denial, coddling fossil fuel interests and blocking efforts to support a clean, renewable energy transition.

“At the very same time Trump and his fellow-travellers defend people’s freedom to infect others or become infected with Covid-19, they’re inviting government to intrude into the most intimate aspects of personal life,” writes Robert Reich. It’s a nonsensical argument, he argues.

“Long after Trump is booted from the Oval Office, his brand of crazy will still linger in the body of his party like the weird symptoms of a dormant pandemic,” writes Richard Wolffe, in this piece looking at Trump’s indulgence of QAnon.

Video of the day

A taste of the weekend’s Trump rallies, where the president is increasingly countenancing the possibility he will lose the election.

Around the web

The New York Post’s “smoking gun” story about Hunter Biden last week was written mostly by a staff reporter who refused to put his name on it because of concerns about its credibility, Post employees have told the NYT.

This New Yorker Radio Hour podcast with US senator Elizabeth Warren and congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the state of US democracy and concerns about the election is worth your time.

Last week, I confessed I spent more time watching Trump’s bombastic TV town hall than Biden’s more sedate one on a rival network. So I was kind’ve surprised to see the Democrat out-rate the president. No doubt Trump took that news well.

What the numbers say: $53m

The amount in US dollars Biden’s campaign has spent on TV advertising in the past month in battleground states Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, according to the NYT, compared to Trump’s $17m.

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