President Donald Trump trotted out a new conspiracy theory about the coronavirus pandemic this weekend — that doctors somehow make more money when patients die from the virus. At a campaign event on Friday, Trump falsely claimed doctors are artificially inflating the number of COVID-19 deaths to make more money. He did not explain how this would work even if it were true, and there is no evidence to support his theory.
"Our doctors get more money if someone dies from Covid," Trump told a crowd of voters in Waterford Township, Michigan, according to a report by CNN. "You know that, right? I mean our doctors are very smart people. So what they do is they say 'I'm sorry but everybody dies of Covid.'" There are no reports to suggest this theory about medical profiteering schemes, and many critics saw it as deeply offensive to a nation grieving for nearly a quarter-million deaths in the last few months. Many medical professionals got on social media to condemn this insensitive rhetoric.
"Our doctors get more money if someone dies from Covid. You know that, right? I mean, our doctors are very smart people." -- Trump pushes a baseless conspiracy that greedy American health care workers are overcounting coronavirus deaths pic.twitter.com/fsajGTvvN3— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 30, 2020
The American Medical Association seemed to condemn these remarks by Trump over the weekend, without actually naming him. Their statement referred to this conspiracy theory as "malicious, outrageous and completely misguided." A recently published study found that deaths in the United States were up by about 20% from the average between March 1 and Aug. 1.
"The suggestion that doctors — in the midst of a public health crisis — are overcounting COVID-19 patients or lying to line their pockets is a malicious, outrageous, and completely misguided charge," said Dr. Susan Bailey, president of the AMA. "Throughout this pandemic, physicians, nurses, and frontline health care workers have risked their health, their safety and their lives to treat their patients and defeat a deadly virus."
These conspiracy theories are the latest in a string of misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic from Trump. As the 2020 presidential election approaches, his lies about this public health crisis have only grown more extreme. He continues to tell supporters at his rally that the U.S. is "rounding the corner" and that conditions are improving, while the opposite is actually true.
On Friday, the U.S. set a grim new record for most infections in a single day, with 90,000 new cases reported. There were at least 929 deaths that same day, and cases, hospitalizations and deaths are on the rise in almost ever state. According to an analysis by The New York Times, the gulf between the president's rhetoric and the truth voters are seeing is already having an impact on the 2020 presidential election.