Report: Trump Downplayed COVID Threat
September 9, 2020 – President Donald Trump knew in early February, before the first known U.S. death from COVID-19, that the novel coronavirus could be transmitted through the air and was more deadly than seasonal flu.
“You just have to breathe the air and that’s how it was,” he said during a Feb. 7 phone call with reporter Bob Woodward. “And so this is a very delicate question. This is a very delicate question. It’s also more deadly than even your tiring flu.
“These are deadly things,” he said.
At the time, Trump was telling Americans that the United States was in little danger and that the epidemic would soon go away on its own.
Asked about these statements in March, Trump said he wanted to minimize the threat. “I always wanted to downplay it,” Trump told Woodward. “I always like to play it down, because I don’t want to cause panic.”
In the same interview, he went on to acknowledge the seriousness of the threat even to young adults. “Even today and yesterday surprising facts have come out. It’s not just old people, older people. Young people too, lots of young people,” Trump said.
The president’s confession is part of a series of 18 taped and taped interviews with Woodward, who rose to fame for his role in exposing the Watergate scandal. Portions of these tapes aired today on CNN and on the website of the Washington post. In addition to the tapes, news organizations also received drafts of Woodward’s new book on the President, Rage, which will hit store shelves next week.
In a CNN report on the interview, Woodward says he expected the president to talk about impeachment because he had just been acquitted by the Senate. Woodward says he was surprised when Trump focused on the virus.
The United States carries the grim distinction of ruling the world in COVID-19 cases and deaths. So far, the coronavirus has infected 6.3 million Americans and killed more than 190,000. Compared to other wealthy countries, the United States has done poorly, struggling to find ways to contain the virus.
The economy collapsed in the wake of the national response, leaving more than 14 million Americans out of work and pushing the unemployment rate to a high of 14%, one of the worst on record in the modern era.
At a White House press conference shortly after the tapes were released, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany explained the president’s remarks this way: “At a time when you are faced with insurmountable challenges, it is important to express your calm. ” Pressed by a reporter, she denied that the president had misled Americans about the threat of the virus. “This president does what the leaders do. Good leaders. Stay calm and purposeful in the face of an overwhelming challenge. “
According to the fact-check by The Washington Post, the president said the virus would go away on its own 31 times in the first 3 months of the year.
William Hanage, PhD, an epidemiologist at the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at the TH Chan School of Public Health at Harvard, says the president’s desire not to panic is understandable and a fundamental tenet of public health. But he says Trump has done wrong.
“It was no surprise that he knew that. What is surprising is that instead of preparing and preparing people for the coming crisis, he tried to deny it, ”he says.
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