Yet the virus rages coast to coast, making the United States the world leader, by far, in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths. An internal model by Trump’s Council on Economic Advisers predicts a looming disaster, with the number of infections projected to rise later in August and into September and October in the Midwest and elsewhere, according to people briefed on the data.
The forecast has alarmed the president and his top aides, even as some have chosen not to believe it, arguing that some previous projections did not materialize. Trump, meanwhile, has continued to insist publicly that the virus is “receding,” as he described it recently.
Skepticism of scientific projections abounds inside the West Wing. During an Oval Office meeting last month to discuss the Republican National Convention celebration planned for Jacksonville, where coronavirus cases had been surging, advisers informed Trump and other advisers that Birx had warned that they should be prepared for a large percentage of people potentially testing positive.
“Oh, if Doctor Birx says it,” Meadows quipped derisively, questioning the assumption that as many people would get the virus as she said, according to people in the room. The Jacksonville celebration ultimately was canceled.