In the same month that the virus death toll in the United States surpassed 200 thousand, President Donald Trump yet again dismissed the threat it continues to pose.
At a rally in Ohio Monday night, the President falsely claimed that young people were practically immune to the virus, and minimized its threat because it largely affects the elderly.
"It affects elderly people. Elderly people with heart problems and other problems. If they have other problems, that's what it really affects, that's it. Y'know, in some states, thousands of people, nobody young. Below the age of 18, like nobody ... But it affects virtually nobody. It's an amazing thing."
Trump's statement was not only factually inaccurate, but was largely decried for minimizing the lives of over 200 thousand people in the face of a pandemic whose toll was largely preventable. What's more, Trump's own statements in a recently released February interview with Bob Woodward contradict this claim. Trump told Woodward that "It's not just old people ... Young people too" succumb to the virus.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany had the unenviable task of answering for the President's claims after CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta grilled her during a White House press briefing on Tuesday.
Noting the dissonance between Trump's statements at the rally and his statements to Woodward, Acosta asked McEnany why the President wasn't "telling the truth" to his supporters.
Here's how that exchange went.
McEnany initially accused Acosta of taking Trump out of context, to which Acosta replied:
"I'm not taking it out of context. If I said he was talking about younger people, then I'm not taking it out of context."
The press secretary responded:
"You are taking it out of context, cause you're making an assertion that he's not giving critical information, which in fact he is, and I will underscore exactly what he said."
McEnany proceeded to read Trump's comments that "like nobody" under the age of 18 had died of the virus because "they have a strong immune system." She then cited the American Academy of Pediatrics to say that it was "factually true" that young people have healthier immune systems than elderly people.
"Young people can contract [the virus] and then spread it to older people. You've known this since the very beginning. and for the President of the United States, at 200 thousand deaths, to go out to his rallies and say something like 'it virtually affects nobody' and that, in some states, it's not affecting young people, that is glossing over the fact and really diminishing the fact that young people can catch this virus and spread it to older people. Younger people can also be sickened and killed by this virus."
McEnany went on to list the states that have suffered no pediatric deaths as evidence that the virus hasn't affected younger people.
Twitter users largely sided with Acosta.
Acosta later asked McEnany to respond to the grim milestone of over 200 thousand deaths from the virus in the United States. McEnany noted that the death toll hadn't surpassed two million, which was the predicted number of deaths if no actions, such as stay-at-home orders, had been taken by state and city leaders.
"It keeps [Trump] up at night, thinking of even one life lost."
Given that Trump's previous comments on the death toll were "it is what it is," people had trouble believing this.