President Trump‘s retweet on CDC’s COVID-19 death counts update causes confusion

Trumps recent tweet raised questions as it contradicted the CDCs update on Coronavirus deaths

Jiayu Zhan

Trump’s recent tweet raised questions as it contradicted the CDC’s update on Coronavirus deaths

Jiayu Zhan, Arts and Graphics Editor

On Aug. 29, President Donald Trump retweeted a post claiming that only the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) backtracked the number of deaths caused by COVID-19 to 6% of the original number, leading to a series of confusion and rumors.


According to the tweet, only about 9,000 people were killed by the pandemic instead of the 150,000 recorded previously. Although the tweet was later removed, the significant discrepancy in death counts gathered public attention. 

According to the tweet, only about 9,000 people were killed by the pandemic instead of the 150,000 recorded previously.

Contrary to the tweet, the CDC did not backtrack on the total number of deaths caused by the pandemic. Instead, the recent update categorized people based on health conditions before contracting COVID-19 that contributed to their deaths. 


Dr. Huijuan Li, the former Chief Physician for Infectious Diseases at Shenzhen Third People’s Hospital, shows approval for the change. She had experience battling against SARS in the early 2000s and H1N1 in the 2010s. 


“It’s hard to determine the actual cause of death of people. In one way, underlying health conditions leave patients more vulnerable to virus infection. In another way, the virus infection could be the last straw to the damage already done by the underlying condition. That’s why it is good to categorize deaths based on patients’ conditions before getting infected in order to analyze the danger that living patients are under,” Dr. Li said.


The rumor first started by members of QAnon, a conspiracy group who believes that President Trump was sent by God to save children suffering from abuse. 

Chilsea Wang, a freshman at Brown University, states that many suspect the rumor was started in an attempt to elevate President Trump’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Trump-supports are persuading voters to believe that his leadership was not responsible for the 150,000 deaths related to COVID-19. 


“The true measure of a president is whether he can rise to a crisis and unite the nation in action. This November will be a referendum on the current administration’s response,” Wang said.


Samir Khatri, an Advanced Placement U.S. government and Advanced Placement World History teacher at Dougherty Valley High School, furthers Wang’s point through explaining the effect of the tweet on individual Americans.


 “People are so in their information bubble right now […] I think for people who already tended to believe that the responses were overblown, or the situation is not as big of a deal, this kind of information helps to verify the information in their head. It’s very unfortunate that something that’s supposed to be a politically neutral thing now becomes another political tool,” Khatri said.


Although the rumors attracted public attention and evoked discussion, it failed to influence the voters’ political stance in regards to the election. Tracking polls show that Presidential candidate Joe Biden is winning the majority vote 279 to 163 as of Sept 18. “It’s not the statistics that vote, it’s the American people,” Wang stated.