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Poll: Majority of Americans don't trust Trump's statements on his health

Fifty-two percent of adults say they don't trust what President Trump has said about his health since testing positive for Covid-19 in the NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Tracking poll.
Image: U.S. President Donald Trump takes part in a live one-hour NBC News town hall forum, in Miami
President Donald Trump speaks with Savannah Guthrie during a live one-hour NBC News town hall forum with a group of Florida voters in Miami on Oct. 15, 2020.Carlos Barria / Reuters

WASHINGTON — A majority of Americans say they don’t trust what President Trump has said about his health since testing positive for Covid-19 earlier this month, according to new data from the NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Tracking poll.

Fifty-two percent of adults say they don’t trust what Trump has said, while 38 percent say they do trust what the president has reported on his health.

Trump announced that he tested positive for the coronavirus on Oct. 2 — however, neither the president nor anyone in the White House or campaign has said when the president last tested negative prior to that date. White House physician Dr. Sean Conley said on Oct. 12 that the president had tested “negative” for the virus on consecutive days and was no longer a transmission risk.

When asked by NBC’s Savannah Guthrie last week to disclose the last time he tested negative, a detail that could help narrow down the window when the president could transmit the virus, President Trump said he didn’t know or remember.

“I don’t know, I don’t even remember. I test all the time. But I can tell you this, after the debate, I guess a day or so, I think it was Thursday evening, maybe even late Thursday evening, I tested positive,” Trump said.

President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden were required to tell the Commission on Presidential Debates that they tested negative prior to the debate on Sept. 29 — and will be asked to do the same for the final debate on Oct. 22, as per the commission’s rules.

Trump spent three nights at Walter Reed National Military Center after what the White House said were “mild symptoms” from Covid-19.

But despite attempts from the president and his medical team to downplay the president’s condition, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told Fox News while Trump was still hospitalized that “we were real concerned” because Trump “had a fever and his blood oxygen level dropped rapidly” on the day he was admitted to the hospital.

After leaving the hospital, President Trump has said he’s “immune” to the virus and that the medicines he received were a “cure”.

However, scientists aren’t sure how long immunity may last in a person who recovered from Covid-19, and the U.S. already has its first reinfection case. Some of the medicines given to Trump, like Regeneron, also haven’t received emergency use authorizations and are not being widely used as therapeutics for Covid-19.

Neither the White House physician nor the president have said exactly what symptoms were considered mild, however when asked by Guthrie if he had pneumonia, the president said no, but his lungs were “a bit different, a little bit perhaps infected.”

There’s a stark partisan divide in how much Americans trust the president’s statements on his health. Eighty-two percent of Republicans and Republican-leaners trust the president’s statements, while just 11 percent don’t. Meanwhile, 92 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaners don’t trust the president, and only 3 percent do. A majority of independents — 59 percent — don’t trust the president, while 20 percent do and another 20 percent say they aren’t aware.

Trump’s general approval rating, as well as the approval of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, has stayed stagnant during months of NBC News|SurveyMonkey polling.

Forty-four percent of adults say they approve of both how Trump is handling his job and the government’s coronavirus response. Fifty-three percent say they disapprove of his job as president and 55 percent say they disapprove of his coronavirus response.

By comparison, 58 percent of adults say they approve of their governor’s handling of the pandemic, with 40 percent disapproving.

Data come from a set of SurveyMonkey online polls conducted October 12-18, 2020 among a national sample of 78,524 adults in the U.S. Respondents were selected from the more than 2 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. The modeled error estimate for this survey is plus or minus 1.0 percentage points. Data have been weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States age 18 and over.