While on a campaign trail in Minnesota on August 18, Trump attempted to deflect questions about the United States' poor handling of the COVID-19 pandemic by directing attention to, of all places, New Zealand.
“When you look at the rest of the world... Now, all of the a sudden, the places they were using to hold up, they are having a big surge, and I don’t want that, I don’t want that. But they were holding up names of countries, and now they are saying ‘whoops’,” he said.
“Even New Zealand, you see what is going on in New Zealand. ‘They beat it, they beat it.’ It was like front page [news], ‘they beat it’, because they wanted to show me something. The problem is… big surge in New Zealand. It’s terrible. We don’t want that.”
Ardern quickly responded, calling Trump's statement about New Zealand seeing a "surge" in cases "patently wrong".
“Obviously, I don’t think there’s any comparison between New Zealand’s current cluster and the tens of thousands of cases that are being seen daily in the United States,” she said.
"Obviously, every country is experiencing its own fight with COVID-19; it is a tricky virus, but not one where I would compare New Zealand's current status to the United States.
"I think anyone who's following COVID and its transmission globally will quite easily see that New Zealand's nine cases in a day does not compare to the United States' tens of thousands, and in fact does not compare to most countries in the world.
"We are still one of the best-performing countries in the world when it comes to COVID and our workers are focussed on keeping it that way."
For context, New Zealand, which recently celebrated 100 days free of community transmitted coronavirus cases, is currently experiencing an outbreak in Auckland, presently totalling around 70 cases. The US has recorded 5.5 million cases to date.