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Twitter censors Trump tweet claiming 100,000 Americans die a year from the flu

President Donald J. Trump in a phone call on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, in his conference room at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)
October 06, 2020

Twitter on Tuesday hid the visibility of President Donald Trump’s tweet comparing COVID-19 deaths to flu season deaths, and added a warning label to the tweet warning about “misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19”

Trump tweeted, “Flu season is coming up! Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu. Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!”

The tweet is only visible on Twitter after clicking past a label that reads, “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not recorded any instances of influenza seasons that have surpassed 100,000 deaths in the past 10 years of data, between the 2010-2011 flu season and the 2019-2020 flu season.

The highest estimate of flu deaths in the past 10 years came in 2017-2018, with an estimated 61,000 deaths for that season, with the CDC’s confidence interval placing the number of flu deaths for the season as high as 95,000 deaths and as low as 46,000 deaths that season.

The Associated Press reported in September 2018 one preliminary estimate of the 2017-2018 flu season placed the death toll at an estimated 80,00 people, which would make it the deadliest flu season in 40 years. CDC estimates for the 2017-2018 flu season remain preliminary.

In defining a flu season, the CDC states, “The exact timing and duration of flu seasons can vary, but influenza activity often begins to increase in October. Most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, although activity can last as late as May.”

The flu season, as defined by the CDC typically lasts between October and April. The COVID-19 pandemic death toll, by comparison, has continued to climb in the U.S., with the death toll starting in February and continuing through October.

To date, the U.S. has recorded more than 7.4 million coronavirus cases and 210,355 fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus case tracking map.

Trump’s tweet comes the morning after he returned to the White House following hospitalization at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for his own COVID-19 case.