US President Donald Trump has used an Independence Day celebration to make yet more misleading claims about the coronavirus, before warning China would be “held accountable”.
Mr Trump claimed that 99 per cent of coronavirus cases in the United States were “totally harmless”.
That was, in fact, totally false.
Official figures showed that, at the time he made the claim, the US death toll from COVID-19 had passed 129,600.
More than 2.8 million Americans had coronavirus as of Sunday, with a record number of cases registered in 14 US states in the first four days of July.
That means 4.5 per cent of the people who had contracted the virus there had been killed.
No doubt the families of the thousands of people who remain in intensive care across the states would not categorise the illness as “totally harmless” either.
The United States has the most infections and virus-related deaths in the world and that number is rapidly growing although cases dipped under 50,000 new daily infections for the first time in four days, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Johns Hopkins on Sunday (local time) counted 45,300 new coronavirus infections reported on Saturday in the US after three days in which the daily count reached as high as 54,500 new cases.
The lower figure does not mean the situation in the US is improving, it could be due to reduced reporting during a holiday.
In Texas, 7890 patients were being treated in hospital after 238 new admissions in the 24 hours to Sunday afternoon (Australian time).
Florida’s confirmed coronavirus cases rose by a record 11,458 on Saturday, marking the second time in three days that its caseload jumped by more than 10,000 in a day.
Among the new US cases was the girlfriend of Mr Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr.
Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former Fox News TV personality turned Trump campaign official, tested positive for coronavirus before she was due to attend the President’s official event at Mount Rushmore on Friday night (local time).
At his White House event, which went ahead despite concerns about mass gatherings, Mr Trump again resorted to his totally baseless theory that the US’s high caseload was a result of more people being tested.
“Now we have tested almost 40 million people. By so doing, we show cases, 99 per cent of which are totally harmless,” he said.
“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.”
His comments also contradicted the predictions of the White House’s health experts.
The US would have a vaccine or therapeutic solution to the virus “long before” the end of this year, Mr Trump said.
But in recent days, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert Dr Anthony Fauci said: “I think it’s pretty obvious that we are not going in the right direction.”
In front of a crowd dressed in red, white and blue for July 4 celebrations, Mr Trump also used the occasion to again point blame at China and promise to hold Beijing to account.
It was not clear how the White House would plan to make China “accountable”.
“We got hit by the virus that came from China,” Mr Trump said.
“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.”