Once again, President Donald Trump is trafficking in disinformation about the pandemic that's killed nearly 160 thousand Americans and left millions more suddenly unemployed.
Trump and his allies have been vocally campaigning for a full return to schools as early as this month in some counties, despite the risks posed to both students and staff. Their defense is that young people are practically immune to the virus.
Trump reiterated the false claim in a Fox News interview.
The President said:
"My view is the schools should open. This things going away. It will go away like things go away...If you look at children, children are almost—I would almost say definitely—but almost immune from this disease. So few, they've got stronger—hard to believe, I don't know how you feel about it, but they have much stronger immune systems than we do somehow."
The President shared the clip on his Facebook account and the video was also shared by the Trump campaign on Twitter, but both platforms have since removed it on the basis of spreading false information.
Twitter temporarily blocked the campaign from tweeting until the post was removed.
While Twitter has flagged multiple Trump tweets in the past for their misinformation, this marked the first time Facebook—which has expressed greater hesitation in combatting fake news—removed one of Trump's posts.
Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesperson, told NBC News:
"This video includes false claims that a group of people is immune from [the virus] which is a violation of our policies around harmful...misinformation."
Trump Campaign deputy press secretary Courtney Parella said:
"The President was stating a fact that children are less susceptible to the [virus]. Another day, another display of Silicon Valley's flagrant bias against this President, where the rules are only enforced in one direction. Social media companies are not the arbiters of truth."
Children are definitely not "totally immune" to the virus, as Trump said, and some areas are learning that in the most painful way imaginable.
At the end of June, a virus outbreak occurred at a Georgia overnight camp that had taken limited precautions in slowing the spread. The camp held 600 campers and counselors, 344 of whom were tested for the virus. Of those 344, 76 percent tested positive. The majority of the positive results were in children between six and 17 years old.
The President's false claims are dangerous.
People were relieved to see social media outlets pushing back against the false claims.
Nevertheless, Trump doubled down on the claim in his Wednesday press conference.