Trump Reprises Inaccurate COVID-19 Comparisons with Europe

17-Sep-2020 12:45 PM EDT, by Newswise

Fact Check By: Newswise, Newswise

Truthfulness: Mostly False


But if you look at the European Union right now, they’re having breakouts like you’ve never seen before,” he said at the briefing. “And, frankly, their numbers are at a level that are much worse than the numbers here.”

Claim Publisher and Date: President Donald Trump on 2020-09-10

The claim made by President Donald Trump is mostly false. Cumulatively, Europe has far less COVID-19 cases than the United States. 

 As reported by Jessica McDonald at

In a series of recent appearances, President Donald Trump continued to wrongly insist that the U.S. compares favorably with Europe on both coronavirus cases and deaths.

Trump falsely said that Europe’s COVID-19 outbreaks are “much worse” than those in America and that the U.S. has also done “much, much better” on coronavirus deaths, including by having a significantly lower excess mortality rate. While coronavirus cases are increasing in Europe, the U.S.’s per-capita rate is still higher, as is the best estimate of the excess mortality rate.

Trump has made inaccurate comparisons with Europe before, but in a Sept. 10 press briefing, two weekend campaign rallies in Nevada and a Sept. 15 televised town hall, the president continued to insist that the U.S. compares favorably with Europe on coronavirus cases and deaths.

“But if you look at the European Union right now, they’re having breakouts like you’ve never seen before,” he said at the briefing. “And, frankly, their numbers are at a level that are much worse than the numbers here.”

Three days later, at a rally in Henderson, Nevada, Trump focused again on Europe. “Other countries are doing terribly,” he said. “Did you see the statistics of us compared to other countries? Us compared to Europe?”

It’s true that many countries in Europe are experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases that now rivals or exceeds the number of cases those nations had in the spring. But only a few countries are posting more new cases per capita than the U.S. — and Europe’s rate is about half of America’s.

According to Oxford University’s Our World in Data, on Sept. 10, the U.S. reported a seven-day average of 106 new coronavirus cases per day per million people, compared with 59 for the European Union and 50 for Europe. 

Only Montenegro, Spain, Andorra, Moldova and France had higher rates of new cases — and at 112 cases per million, France’s rate was only slightly higher, not “much worse” as Trump claimed. Since Montenegro, Moldova and Andorra are not part of the E.U., that means only two E.U. nations, out of 27, had worse outbreaks than the U.S. when adjusted for population.

When measured cumulatively, only one European nation — the microstate of San Marino — has had more COVID-19 cases per capita than the U.S. As of Sept. 15, America has had 19,803 cases per million people, a rate 3.6 to 3.9 times that of Europe (5,546) and the E.U (5,094).

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