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A mailbox containing free masks for pedestrians stands in the center of Tenafly, N.J., on Oct. 22, 2020. A mailbox containing free masks for pedestrians stands in the center of Tenafly, N.J., on Oct. 22, 2020.

A mailbox containing free masks for pedestrians stands in the center of Tenafly, N.J., on Oct. 22, 2020.

Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson October 23, 2020

No, fight against coronavirus isn't rounding the corner, as Donald Trump said

If Your Time is short

  • The notion that we are “rounding the corner” would imply significant and sustained reductions in the spread of the virus. In reality, that hasn’t been happening.
     
  • Cases have been rising steadily since mid-September, hospitalizations have been rising for almost two weeks, and positivity rates have been rising since the end of September.

In the final presidential debate of 2020, President Donald Trump repeated a characterization of the coronavirus pandemic that he had used previously, including at a town hall one week earlier.

"We are rounding the turn," on coronavirus, Trump said in the Oct. 22 debate in Nashville. "We are rounding the corner."

No one knows the future course of the coronavirus pandemic. But "rounding the corner" suggests that significant and sustained improvements are being made in the fight against the virus, and that’s not the case in the U.S., according to the data.

The number of coronavirus cases is climbing once again, after falling consistently between late July and mid-September. Cases are now at their highest point since early August, with almost 60,000 new confirmed infections a day, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project. That’s only about 10% lower than the peak in late July.

 

Epidemiologists are worried that the change in seasons could only make matters worse, as colder weather drives more people indoors, where the virus can spread more efficiently.

"The winter is going to be long and hard," Brooke Nichols, an infectious-disease mathematical modeler at Boston University told PolitiFact. "I do worry about the path of the current metrics."

Hospitalizations today are lower than in previous spikes, but in the past few weeks, there has been a modest spike in hospitalizations.

 

And the positivity rate, which measures what percentage of tests come up positive for the virus, also went up again during the past few weeks. This is a concern because higher positivity rates are an indicator of community spread.

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The one encouraging change is that the number of deaths has eased somewhat. Since a peak in August, deaths have fallen fairly consistently due to a combination of factors, including improved understanding of how to treat the disease.

 

That said, deaths have settled in at about 800 a day, which is a substantial level and is keeping total deaths per week in the United States above normal levels.

 

"Our experience over the last several months has made us better at managing disease among infected people," said Nicole Gatto, an associate professor of public health at Claremont Graduate University. "However, I do not think we should be overconfident, lay back and rely on medicine simply because we’re better at treating COVID."

Our ruling

Trump said, "We are rounding the turn" on coronavirus. "We are rounding the corner."

No one can predict the future course of the pandemic, but the notion that we are "rounding the corner" would imply significant and sustained reductions in the spread of the virus. In reality, that hasn’t been happening.

Cases have been rising steadily since mid-September, hospitalizations have been rising for almost two weeks, and positivity rates have been rising since the end of September.

We rate the statement False.

This fact check is available at IFCN’s 2020 US Elections FactChat #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here, for more.

Our Sources

COVID Tracking Project, accessed Oct. 21, 2020

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Excess Deaths Associated with COVID-19," accessed Oct. 21, 2020

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "COVID-19 Hospitalization and Death by Race/Ethnicity," Aug. 18, 2020

Johns Hopkins University, mortality analyses, accessed Oct. 21, 2020

NPR, "Studies Point To Big Drop In COVID-19 Death Rates," Oct. 20, 2020

The Guardian, "Biden says Trump 'gone round the bend if he thinks we've turned corner' on Covid as cases surge – as it happened," Oct. 18, 2020

Associated Press, "The Latest: Trump tries to explain lower fundraising numbers," Oct. 16, 2020 

Email interview with Tara C. Smith, Kent State University epidemiologist, Oct. 21, 2020

Email interview with Nicole Gatto, associate professor of public health at Claremont Graduate University, Oct. 21, 2020

Email interview with Brooke Nichols, infectious disease mathematical modeler at Boston University, Oct. 22, 2020

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No, fight against coronavirus isn't rounding the corner, as Donald Trump said

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