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Experts call Trump’s rosy virus message misguided

Should people fear the coronavirus?

Public health experts say 1 million worldwide deaths are among reasons to be concerned, if not fearful, and to take everyday precautions despite rosy advice from the still-recovering president.

“Don’t let it dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it. You’re going to beat it,” Donald Trump said in a White House video released after he left the hospital Monday.

In the United States alone, more than 210,000 people weren’t able to beat it.

The seven-day rolling average for new U.S. cases has climbed over the past two weeks to almost 42,000 per day. The nation also sees more than 700 COVID-19 deaths each day.

COVID-19 also is deadlier than the flu, despite Trump’s claim otherwise. Flu has killed 12,000 to 61,000 Americans annually since 2010, according to CDC estimates.

It is true that the vast majority of people who get COVID-19 develop only mild symptoms. But experts can’t predict which patients will develop dangerous or deadly infections. And only a small percentage of Americans have been sickened by the coronavirus, meaning the vast majority are still at risk for infection.

It is true, as Trump said in the video, that medicines have been found that can treat the virus, reducing chances for severe illness and death. But there is still no cure for it and no definitive date for when an effective vaccine might become widely available.

Another reason for concern is uncertainty over which patients will develop lasting complications affecting the lungs, heart, kidneys and other organs. While these are more common in patients with severe infections, persistent symptoms lasting several months have occurred even in those with mild disease. Fatigue is among the most common.

Taking everyday precautions including wearing masks and social distancing to curb disease spread doesn’t mean the virus is dominating people’s lives, said Dr. Khalilah Gates, an assistant professor of medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago.

“There are things we need to do collectively to make sure we minimize the mortality,” Gates said. “That’s not domination. That’s just being willing to make changes so we can all get through this in a much better and safer way.”

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Follow AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner at @LindseyTanner.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Trump allies turn Covid diagnosis into a message of strength

His allies have tried to connect the president’s experience to the pain of millions of Americans affected by the deadly virus, but they haven’t used the experience to send a broader public-health message about a pandemic that has killed around 210,000 people in the U.S. They have instead presented, in a series of TV appearances and tweets, a testament to Trump’s resilience by asserting that he has overcome the disease.

He and his surrogates are now portraying the president as having personally vanquished the virus — and they continue to skirt any suggestion of his complicity in its spread while largely ignoring the dire signs of his condition.

Their defense is to push the president’s diagnosis almost as a boost to his qualifications. Piggybacking off the campaign’s criticisms of Joe Biden as a challenger relegated to his basement, Trump’s team has portrayed the president’s Covid case as an insight into the disease that the Democractic nominee could never have.

“He has experience as commander in chief. He has experience as a businessman,” a Trump campaign spokeswoman, Erin Perrine, said Monday on Fox News. “He has experience now of fighting the coronavirus as an individual. Those firsthand experiences, Joe Biden, he doesn’t have those.”

In a video to his supporters on Sunday, Trump said that he had “learned a lot about Covid.”

“I learned it by really going to school,” the president said. “This is the real school. This isn’t the let’s-read-the-book school. And I get it. And I understand it. And it’s a very interesting thing, and I’m going to be letting you know about it.”

But the approach hasn’t led the surge in public support that often follows a leader’s health crisis. His critics continue to question why he and his staff had continuously disregarded health officials’ advice on how to stop the spread of the disease. The recent burst in cases in the White House, they point out, was probably tied to a number of in-person events where allies of the president rubbed elbows in tight quarters while not wearing masks.

Even after his diagnosis, the president continued to act in ways that put his staff in danger of contagion. In a brief foray outside the hospital on Sunday, he greeted supporters from an armored, sealed SUV — potentially putting Secret Service agents in direct contact with the virus. It was a move meant to shore up support, but led to a frenzy of condemnation.

Trump’s camp has made it clear that the president’s stint in the hospital — he was discharged on Monday evening — wasn’t changing their approach to the virus. The campaign snubbed the use of plexiglass separators at the upcoming vice presidential debate, and upon arriving at the White House, Trump removed his mask for a photo op even though he’s likely still contagious.

If anything, it has become a talking point to boost the president as capable of meeting any challenge at the cost of minimizing the virus’ risks.

“We’re not going to