Donald Trump rallied his faithful in Arizona on Saturday, rehashing yet again his unfounded claims that the US presidential election was stolen from him, and stirring racial tensions.
After abandoning a pledged press conference on January 6 — the anniversary of the invasion of the Capitol by his supporters — the defeated former president was back in front of a sympathetic crowd for the first time since October.
At the rally in Florence, a rural area outside Phoenix, Trump seeded racial resentments in remarks that twisted the facts on public-health policy and exaggerated the effects of racially conscious antiviral treatment guidelines in New York, falsely claiming that public health authorities are denying the COVID-19 vaccine to white people because of their race.
“The left is now rationing lifesaving therapeutics based on race, discriminating against and denigrating … white people to determine who lives and who dies. If you’re white you don’t get the vaccine or if you’re white you don’t get therapeutics. … In New York state, if you’re white, you have to go to the back of the line to get medical health,” Trump said.
There has been no evidence that white people are being excluded from vaccines, of which there is a plentiful supply. And there is no evidence they are being sent to the “back of the line” for COVID-19 care as a matter of public health policy.
Trump’s words distorted a New York policy that allows for race to be one consideration when dispensing oral antiviral treatments, which are in limited supply. The policy attempts to steer those treatments to people at the most risk of severe disease from the coronavirus.
It says that nonwhite race or Hispanic ethnicity “should be considered a risk factor” because long-standing health and social inequities make people of color more likely to get severely ill or die from the virus.
Trump extrapolated from that to assert wrongly that white people are being forced to “the back of the line” for health care and being shut out both from vaccines and therapeutics.
Michael Lanza, a New York City Health Department spokesman, told the New York Post that race is not used to deny treatment.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found late last year that Black, Hispanic and Indigenous people were about twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than non-Hispanic whites and were notably more likely to be hospitalized. An earlier Associated Press analysis of the pandemic’s first waves found that COVID-19 was taking a disproportionately heavy toll on Black and Hispanic people.
CDC research in October reported that people in certain ethnic and racial minority groups were dying from COVID-19 at younger ages and a report from the institution Friday said minorities are less likely to receive outpatient antiviral treatment than whites.
During the rally, Trump reiterated his claims that the election was stolen from him and set about a binary classification of people — those who signed on to his theories about fraud were “smart” and “tough,” while those who didn’t were “horrible” and “weak.”
The message was clear: without getting in line on election fraud claims, no-one will get Trump’s endorsement.
Speakers were introduced as “Trump-endorsed” and all of them cast doubt on 2020.
“That election was rotten to the core,” Congressman Paul Gosar told the crowd.
The message resonated with the thousands who took part in the rally.
“You can’t tell me that it was a legit election,” said, Will Garrity, who had traveled from Houston, Texas.
“If you really pay attention to the facts to various audits, various information that’s coming out, you see it. I mean, it’s crystal clear.”
“We love our president. I call him President Trump because I still consider him my president,” said Jonathan Riches has been to 40 Donald Trump rallies and fervently believes the last US presidential election was stolen.