Donald Trump recently made a trip to visit a section of border wall in San Luis, Arizona.
He and other officials autographed the wall, with Trump proudly boasting:
"It stopped Covid. It stopped everything."
The day before that visit, Arizona topped two thousand new cases in a single day for the first time. The day of the comment, Arizona very nearly doubled that number at 3,591 new cases.
That was a record-breaking high number—the highest Arizona has had so far. The United States continues its reign as the nation with the most cases and some of the weakest protections.
The "border wall" that Trump was referring to is actually a fence made of narrow pillars spaced a few inches apart. Air, water, and small animals can all pass through the wall easily. So can viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms.
Considering those facts, it would be understandable for people to doubt that Trump meant what he said at the wall. His camp often claims he is "joking" when things like this come out.
However, Trump doubled down at a press conference the next day.
"Using our emergency public health authorities we prevented a coronavirus catastrophe on the southern border, shutting down human smuggling and swiftly returning the crossers."
"Without these public health measures the southern border would be a global epicentre of the viral transmission."
Except Arizona is a global epicentre of viral transmission.
It has been since at least the end of May. At that point, the state began to show a sharp rise in not just total number of cases, but also in the percent of tests that came back positive.
According to the Arizona Department of Health, Yuma County (where Trump made this claim and held followup speeches) has a 14.3% total positive testing rate with about five thousand cases. Right next door in Maricopa county there are almost thirty five thousand cases.
Nearby Santa Cruz county has over a 25% positive test rate. In total, Arizona has about sixty thousand official positive cases right now.
People have not stopped traveling.
In fact, Trump has encouraged more businesses to open with less restriction. He has repeatedly stated that he believes we are testing "too much" and it is making the nation look bad.
His proposed solution to the alarming spike in cases is to just stop testing. As expected, his camp came out and clarified that Trump was "kidding" when he said he wanted less testing and that he was going to pull funding for testing sites.
Trump clarified that he was absolutely serious, saying:
"I don't kid."
Nationwide, numbers have continued to climb.
It's particularly jarring when looked at compared to other nations.
Experts agree that Trump and Pence, who has started a religious-focused tour, are trying to call attention to the Border Wall as a means of moving away from the pandemic conversation. It does not seem that people are quite ready to move away from it, though.
As word of his claim about the border wall stopping COVID made its way to social media, the public response was predictably passionate.
People are absolutely not buying it.
It remains to be seen whether his camp will again claim our Comedian-In-Chief was "joking."