While Donald Trump’s tumultuous campaign may be entering the final stretch ahead of next week’s election, his barrage of conspiracy theories and misinformation is continuing at full speed. At a Friday campaign rally in Waterford Township, Michigan, Trump made the claim that doctors are exaggerating Covid-19 deaths to increase their profits, telling his supporters that “our doctors get more money if someone dies from Covid.” An unfounded allegation that first gained traction on conspiracy theory websites and message boards, there is no evidence to support this claim, with the American Medical Association stating on Twitter that “rather than attacking and lobbing baseless charges at physicians, our leaders should be following the science.”
It comes at a pivotal moment for the campaign, which has used easily disproved falsehoods as a means of sowing chaos and confusion around the pandemic during an already turbulent time. Donald Trump Jr.’s claim in an interview with Fox News on Thursday that coronavirus deaths in America right now are “almost nothing” coincided with the highest single-day total of 90,000 new coronavirus infections recorded, and experts are currently predicting it could cross the 100,000 threshold within weeks. Trump’s new accusation, clearly intended to foster distrust between the public and the medical community, is merely his latest attempt to add fuel to the fire.
Naturally, many took to Twitter to counter Trump’s claim, with various medical professionals airing their frustrations and describing it as “atrocious,” “laughable,” and “abhorrent.”
For the first time ever, last spring I was scared to go to work. I was scared of being infected, infecting my family, of what was happening to my patients and whether hospitals had the capacity to care for them.
This is what HCWs are concerned about, not cheating the system. https://t.co/bSxwnoYOeX
— uché blackstock, md (@uche_blackstock) October 25, 2020
Trump: You know, our doctors get more money if someone dies from COVID
Truth: I took a 20% pay cut due to less patients. Lost 3 colleagues & 27 y.o. cousin. Cried countless times delivering news of deaths to families. I'm doing more for the U.S. than you!pic.twitter.com/YA6bCZ1Bzh
— Cleavon MD (@Cleavon_MD) October 30, 2020
The idea that doctors would fabricate a pandemic is atrocious & laughable. Most of us have taken huge financial hits due to COVID: every attending MD at my health system took a sizable pay cut, & most worked MORE (I did 30% more RVUs than last year due to staffing shortages). https://t.co/xyE77EFBZ7
— Anne Mills (@AnneMillsMD) October 25, 2020
Notably, Trump’s provocative statement stood in stark contrast to that of Joe Biden, who is also currently on the campaign trail in the Midwest, a critical region for undecided voters ahead of next Tuesday’s ballot. At a campaign event in Minnesota on Friday, Biden took a hard line against Trump’s lies and inaction. “The President of the United States is accusing the medical profession of making up Covid deaths so they make more money,” Biden told his supporters. “Doctors and nurses go to work every day to save lives. They do their jobs. Donald Trump should stop attacking them and do his job.” With just three days to go until the final ballots are cast, and as the U.S. prepares to enter the next phase of the pandemic, we can only hope it will be a job that will fall into safer, scientifically-informed hands.