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President Trump gets New Zealand’s ‘big surge’ all wrong | Editorial
The president doesn't seem to understand what's going on in New Zealand — or in the United States.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said President Donald Trump's assertion of a "big surge" is "patently wrong,"
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said President Donald Trump's assertion of a "big surge" is "patently wrong," [ MARK MITCHELL | AP ]
This article represents the opinion of the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.
Published Aug. 19, 2020
Updated Aug. 19, 2020
“When you look at the rest of the world ... now all the sudden, a lot of the places that they were using to hold up, they’re having a big surge. They were holding up names of countries, and now they’re saying, ‘Whoops.’ In fact, even New Zealand. You see what’s going on in New Zealand? They beat it. They beat it. It was like front page, they beat it, because they wanted to show me something. The problem is, big surge in New Zealand.” — President Donald Trump said in Minnesota on Monday.

On the day the president made this claim, New Zealand had a “big surge” of nine new coronavirus cases. Maybe Trump was presciently looking ahead to what would happen the next day, when New Zealand would report 13 new cases, but he probably wasn’t thinking of Wednesday, when it reported six new cases. How ridiculous was the president’s assertion? On Wednesday, Pinellas County reported 12 new deaths in a single day, and Hillsborough counted 18. As for cases? Well, Hillsborough had 246 new ones, and Pinellas had 118. It was a sad day for the Sunshine State, as it crossed the threshold of 10,000 deaths. The United States has surpassed 171,000 deaths. How many have died in New Zealand? Twenty-two. Total.

In fact, the United States has more cases (5,482,823) than New Zealand has people (a little more than 5 million). But New Zealand is so small that those deaths are proportionately high, right? Well, no. The U.S. mortality rate in a country of 330 million is about 52 deaths per 100,000 people. In New Zealand, it’s about 0.45 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Dashboard. We’ll do the math because it’s apparently not the president’s strong suit: The U.S. death rate is more than 100 times higher.

New Zealand has fought the coronavirus by taking it seriously with a coordinated approach, even locking down Auckland, its largest city, because of the handful of new cases. It has lessons to teach us, but the president seems to be failing at his own version of distance learning.

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Times Chairman and CEO Paul Tash, Editor of Editorials Graham Brink, and editorial writers Elizabeth Djinis, John Hill and Jim Verhulst. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news