AP FACT CHECK: Trump flubs study on masks and coronavirus

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Pitt-Greenville Airport, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, in Greenville, N.C. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Pitt-Greenville Airport, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, in Greenville, N.C. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Supporters of President Donald Trump cheer as he walks off stage after speaking at a campaign rally at Pitt-Greenville Airport, Thursday, Oct. 15, 202...

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Pitt-Greenville Airport, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, in Greenville, N.C. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Pitt-Greenville Airport, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, in Greenville, N.C. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Supporters of President Donald Trump cheer as he walks off stage after speaking at a campaign rally at Pitt-Greenville Airport, Thursday, Oct. 15, 202...

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump twice botched the findings of a federal study on Thursday as he brushed off the importance of wearing a mask to prevent COVID-19.

Trump also was off the mark in stating that Democratic rival Joe Biden and running mate Kamala Harris never expressed best wishes when he came down with the disease. They did.

A look at those remarks before Trump and Biden take separate stages in the evening for competing town hall-style events.

TRUMP, on his rallies: “What I do is outside is a big thing. And if you look at those, people, they really are wearing masks. I’ll tell you, I looked last night in Iowa — there were many, many people wearing masks. But then you see CDC comes out with a statement that 85% of the people wearing masks catch it.” — Fox Business interview.

TRUMP, looking out over his crowd: “Look at all the masks. You know, they keep saying, ‘nobody wears a mask, wear the mask.’ Although then they come out with things today. Did you see CDC? That 85% of the people wearing a mask catch it, OK?” — remarks at rally in Greenville, North Carolina.

THE FACTS: Not OK. The study cited, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, did not find that 85% of mask wearers catch COVID-19. If that were the case, the majority of Americans would be infected.

It found something quite different: that 85% of the small group of COVID-19 patients surveyed — about 150 on this question — reported they had worn a mask often or always around the time they would have become infected.

The group's exposure to potentially infected people in the community varied. Most reported shopping or being in a home with multiple people. But they were twice as likely to have eaten at a restaurant, where masks are set aside for the meal, than were uninfected people in a control group.

Most studies have shown that wearing masks reduces the transmission of the virus by blocking respiratory droplets. Several studies have also shown that masks could offer some protection for the people who wear them.

The findings were in a CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published last month.

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TRUMP, reacting to the news that people associated with the Biden campaign on a recent flight with Harris tested positive for COVID-19: “We extend our best wishes, which is more than they did to me, but that’s OK.”

THE FACTS: That’s false.

Hours after Trump’s early morning announcement on Oct. 2 that he had tested positive, both Biden and Harris sent their wishes for a quick recovery via Twitter.

“Jill and I send our thoughts to President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for a swift recovery,” Biden wrote. “We will continue to pray for the health and safety of the president and his family.”

Harris tweeted a similar message “wishing President Trump and the First Lady a full and speedy recovery. We’re keeping them and the entire Trump family in our thoughts.”

The Biden campaign at the time also announced it would stop running negative ads, with the candidate tweeting that “this cannot be a partisan moment” after the news that Trump was going to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for treatment of his coronavirus infection. Biden’s camp resumed the advertising after Trump was released from Walter Reed.

At least three people connected to Biden’s campaign have tested positive for the coronavirus, leading the campaign to suspend in-person events for Harris through Monday.

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Associated Press writers Darlene Superville in Greenville, North Carolina, and Kevin Freking in Washington contributed to this report.

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EDITOR'S NOTE — A look at the veracity of claims by political figures.

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