But leaving no room between the vice president and the president on the threat from the virus, Mr. Pence’s aides said the plan announced on Monday by the Commission on Presidential Debates for him and Ms. Harris to debate while sitting more than a dozen feet apart and behind plexiglass dividers to prevent any viral transmission was unnecessary.
“We don’t think it’s needed,” said Marc Short, Mr. Pence’s chief of staff. “There’s no science to support it. The tables are 12 feet apart and each participant is tested. It’s important for the American people that the debate go forward, and if she’s more comfortable with plexiglass, than that’s fine.”
In his tweet on the flu, Mr. Trump said, “Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu,” and he added that it did not result in shutting the country down. “No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!” Mr. Trump wrote.
Mr. Trump’s figure for flu deaths was highly misleading. According to C.D.C. figures, in a typical year over the past decade, fewer than 50,000 Americans died from influenza. Deaths peaked at an estimated 61,000 in the 2017-18 season — or less than one-third the toll from the coronavirus in an America where widespread precautions have been in effect for months. Without them, many experts say, the coronavirus death toll could have reached into the millions.
Mr. Trump also upended the stimulus talks in Congress with a series of tweets in which he accused Speaker Nancy Pelosi of “not negotiating in good faith” and urged Senate Republicans to focus solely on confirming his nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
Mr. Trump said he had instructed his aides to stop negotiating on the stimulus, sending the S&P 500 down 1.4 percent for the day.
“Our Economy is doing very well,” Mr. Trump tweeted as the market fell. “The Stock Market is at record levels, JOBS and unemployment also coming back in record numbers. We are leading the World in Economic Recovery, and THE BEST IS YET TO COME!”
Maggie Haberman contributed reporting from New York, and Lara Jakes and Emily Cochrane from Washington.