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President Donald Trump participates in a tour of a Honeywell International plant that manufactures personal protective equipment,  May 5, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP) President Donald Trump participates in a tour of a Honeywell International plant that manufactures personal protective equipment,  May 5, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP)

President Donald Trump participates in a tour of a Honeywell International plant that manufactures personal protective equipment, May 5, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP)

Katie Sanders
By Katie Sanders May 6, 2020
Aaron Sharockman
By Aaron Sharockman May 6, 2020
Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman May 6, 2020

President Donald Trump left Washington for his first major trip in nearly two months, and also left the relative safety of a Fox News interview by sitting down with ABC News’ David Muir during a visit to Arizona on May 5.

Muir was criticized for not pushing back harder on some of Trump’s specific claims about his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are four inaccuracies from Trump’s comments, fact-checked.

"Don't forget, the cupboard was bare. The last administration left us nothing. We didn't have ventilators, we didn't have medical equipment, we didn't have testing."

Trump’s sweeping generalization — which he has made before — is Mostly False. The state of the Strategic National Stockpile was not where it needed to be for the pandemic, particularly with N95 masks, which were not replenished after the H1N1 outbreak in 2009. But it wasn’t bare. In November 2019, the former director of the stockpile described it as an $8 billion enterprise, with extensive holdings of many needed items.

Muir followed up on this one, asking Trump why he did not do more to address the stockpile during his three years in office. Trump blamed Democratic efforts to investigate him over Russia and Ukraine, including the impeachment trial.

"The tests were broken. You saw that. We had broken tests. They left us nothing."

This claim, which Muir did not correct, rates Pants on Fire. COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus. There was no "bad" test to inherit for detecting a new virus. 

On potential deaths: "Those models that you're mentioning are talking about without mitigation."

Presented with dire outlooks for COVID-19 deaths over the summer months, Trump incorrectly said they did not take into account mitigation efforts, such as social distancing and mask requirements.

Muir asked Trump about dire COVID-19 predictions from two institutions, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

The University of Washington’s updated model shows 134,000 Americans could die by August, nearly double their previous projection. Contrary to what Trump said, this model factors in mitigation efforts.

"We’ve never put forward a forecast that included no mitigation," said institute spokeswoman Amelia Apfel in an email.

The other model Muir mentioned, from Johns Hopkins University, stems from an internal federal government slideshow. That document contained one slide that projected 3,000 deaths per day by June.

The information came from a model created by Justin Lessler, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Lessler told NPR that his scenarios do assume some degree of mitigation. 

"Nancy Pelosi was out there at the end of February, talking about let's go dancing in Chinatown in San Francisco, because she wanted to prove that there was no problem. But there was a problem. Schumer was talking in March, about there’s no problem. I banned people from coming in, in January."

Pelosi did visit the Chinatown area in San Francisco on Feb. 24, encouraging residents to eat and shop. But she didn’t talk about people going dancing, and she didn’t say there was no problem concerning the coronavirus.

"I’m here today, particularly, to say thank you to the community for the sense of family values and sense of community that they provide," Pelosi said. "But also to say to everyone: we should come to Chinatown. Precautions have been taken by our city.  We know that there is concern surrounding tourism, traveling all throughout the world, but we think it’s very safe to be in Chinatown and hope that others will come."

Pelosi, at another point, specifically stressed that people be concerned about the virus.

"Prevention, prevention, prevention," she told reporters. "We want people to be concerned and vigilant.  However, we don’t want them to be afraid."

When it comes to Schumer, Trump’s wrong. Here’s Schumer, in a joint statement with Pelosi, on Feb. 27:

"The United States government must do more to address the spread of the deadly coronavirus in a smart, strategic, and serious way and we stand ready to work in a bipartisan fashion in Congress and with the administration to achieve this necessary goal. Lives are at stake — this is not the time for name-calling or playing politics."

And lastly, Trump’s criticism of Schumer and Pelosi ignores some of his own statements and actions in February and March. On the same day Pelosi was touring San Francisco’s Chinatown, Trump tweeted: "The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA."

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Our Sources

Pelosi Remarks at Media Availability Following Visit to San Francisco’s Chinatown and Meetings with Local Business Owners, Feb. 24, 2020

SCHUMER, PELOSI JOINT STATEMENT ON CONGRESSIONAL ACTION TO COMBAT THE CORONAVIRUS, Feb. 27, 2020

PolitiFact, "Timeline: How Donald Trump responded to the coronavirus pandemic," March 20, 2020

Email interview,  Amelia Apfel, spokeswoman for the the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, May 6, 2020

Email interview, Barbara Benham, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, May 6, 2020

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