By CALVIN WOODWARD
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump stated falsely on Sunday that Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden apologized for calling him xenophobic in responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Trump also played down the threat to meatpacking employees who are being called to work as infections run high.
A look at his remarks as he took questions from Fox News anchors and viewers in an open-air evening session against the backdrop of the Lincoln Memorial.
TRUMP, claiming Biden called his travel restrictions on China xenophobic: “Biden has written a letter of apology.” … “He actually apologized (and said) I made the right move.”
THE FACTS: There’s no such letter of apology in sight. Moreover, Biden supported Trump’s restrictions on travel from China — yes, essentially calling them the right move.
The Democrat has accused Trump of having a record of xenophobia but not explicitly in the context of the president’s decision to limit travel from China during the pandemic. Trump took to calling the virus the “China virus” and the “foreign virus” at one point, prompting Biden to urge the country not to take a turn toward xenophobia or racism in the pandemic.
TRUMP: “I closed the country to China.”
THE FACTS: Not completely. His restrictions in late January temporarily barred entry by foreign nationals who had traveled in China within the previous 14 days, but left exceptions for the immediate family of U.S. citizens and permanent residents as well as U.S. citizens. The policy left plenty of
Trump said people who made it in from China were tested upon arrival, but that’s not so. Americans returning from China were allowed back after enhanced screening at select ports of entry, which could include a temperature check and observations for symptoms.
That’s not the same as getting a diagnostic coronavirus test. Mere screenings can miss people who don’t yet show symptoms of COVID-19. While symptoms often appear within five or six days of exposure, the incubation period is 14 days.
TRUMP, on his emergency order to reopen meat plants after many closed because workers were sickened by COVID-19. “I think it’s all working out. … Those people are tending to get better quickly.”
THE FACTS: He offered no support for the contention that workforces at meat plants are rapidly returning to health.
In a report Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said more than 4,900 workers at meat and poultry processing facilities have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, 20 of whom have died.
The illnesses occurred among 130,000 workers at 115 facilities in 19 states, according to the CDC. Some states didn’t provide data, so the actual count is believed to be higher.
The CDC said plant workers may be at risk for a number of reasons, such as difficulties with physical distancing and hygiene and crowded living and transportation conditions. The researchers suggested that disinfection be enhanced and that workers get regular screening for the virus, more space from co-workers and training materials in their native languages.