Late last month, with the number of dead in the United States approaching 75,000, according to figures compiled by The New York Times, projections foresaw another spike in Covid-19 cases and deaths as social-distancing rules relaxed. One draft government report projected as many as 3,000 deaths a day by the end of May. Yet according to administration officials, Mr. Trump has begun privately questioning the models and the official death statistics.
His skepticism is shared by others in an administration that has regularly disregarded the advice of scientists. On Tuesday, the White House Council of Economic Advisers released a model that showed deaths dropping to zero by the middle of May. The projection, which the council suggested was to ”inform policymakers,” appeared to ignore the conventions used by epidemiologists and was roundly dismissed by experts. But it did provide a useful counterpoint to those who argue it is too soon to reopen the economy.
At the same time, the president has increasingly picked up on talk from the political fringes of inflated death counts and plots to ensure his defeat in November.
In late April, as the toll approached 60,000, Mr. Trump retweeted a post by a former New York City police official that claimed the number was being inflated by the same people behind the “failed coup attempts” of the Mueller investigation and Mr. Trump’s impeachment.