Donald Trump talks a lot, often without saying anything particularly truthful.
Sometimes this is entertaining, but right now it’s dangerous.
Trump is, after all, is leader of one of the most powerful countries on earth (which also happens to be home to roughly 330 million people).
So his initially relaxed reaction to coronavirus and the misinformed statements he’s come out with over the last few weeks have had the potential to be fatal.
It’s not just immediate deaths from coronavirus – which amount to around 140 in the USA at the time of writing – it’s the economic shockwaves that will be hitting the country, and the rest of the world, for months to come.
Trump has (finally) declared a national emergency in the US and is busy rewriting history to try and make out that he’s always taken the threat of Covid-19 seriously.
“I will never hesitate to take any necessary steps to protect the lives, health, and safety of the American people,” said The Donald on 11 March in a televised briefing.
I will always put the wellbeing of America first.
When this statement was released via Twitter, other internet users felt there was something Trump was forgetting… like everything he’d said previously on the subject.
“Let’s have look at your past statements,” tweeted a user with the name Marie-Caroline.
We thought it might be helpful to match up these declarations with the context they were made in.
So, for your isolation pleasure, here’s a long list of Donald Trump’s statements on coronavirus – and what was going on around him when he made them.
22 January: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”
KNOWN US INFECTIONS: 1
Trump makes this comment on CNBC’s Squawkbox. A resident in Washington becomes the first confirmed case of coronavirus in the US and the CDC and Homeland Security starts screening people traveling to airports in California and New York.
2 February: “We pretty much shut it down coming in from China”
KNOWN US INFECTIONS: 11
Trump drops by Hannity, a Fox News show that’s long supported him. Despite claiming they’d “shut [coronavirus] down”, airline officials have now begun quizzing all passengers about whether they’d recently been to mainland China, restricting flights to and from there, and enforcing mandatory quarantine for anyone who has. The focus on China is later criticised for being myopic and potentially causing cases to be missed in people who had no connection with the country.
How did @realDonaldTrump fail to contain #coronavirus?
1. By focusing on China, he failed to stop the virus coming… https://t.co/5VyKtNNK6N
24 February: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA… Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”
KNOWN US INFECTIONS: 53
As 53 cases of coronavirus are confirmed by the CDC and the Dow Jones Index closes 1000 points down, Trump tweets that coronavirus is under control. Hours later the White House requests $1.25 billion (£1 billion) in additional emergency funding. Under. Control.
25 February: “CDC & my administration are doing a GREAT job of handling Coronavirus” and “I think that’s a problem that’s going to go away. They have studied it. They know very much. In fact, we’re very close to a vaccine.”
KNOWN US INFECTIONS: 57
New cases of coronavirus are popping up, including one recently evacuated cruise ship. Stocks fall another 700 points and rumblings of a global recession are starting to rear their head. As Trump tweets about what a great job his administration is doing at handling the cases, public health labs are asking for permission to create their own Covid-19 tests to try and make up the desperate shortage that CDC is experiencing. San Francisco declares a state of emergency.
Meanwhile, Trump is in India, apparently claiming the US is close to a coronavirus vaccine. After quizzing from media, the White House backtracks and says he was referencing Ebola. Sure.
26 February: “We’re going very substantially down, not up” and “The 15 [cases] within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero”
KNOWN US INFECTIONS: 60
Trump makes these remarks during a White House briefing in which he also claims a vaccine is being developed “fairly rapidly” and advises people to “Treat this like you treat the flu”. Bafflingly, he says there are 15 cases in the US and announces they’re well on the way to zero. There are 60 confirmed as he speaks, with fears of more undiagnosed cases and asymptomatic carriers.
27 February: “One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear”
KNOWN US INFECTIONS: 60
Trump says coronavirus will one day “disappear” from American shores but “could get worse” before it gets better. Meanwhile, a Californian patient is being regarded as the first case of known community spread and more than 4,800 other people are being monitored in the state. The CDC announces a change in its testing policy – now it’s not just people known to have visited China who are considered as possible carriers. Despite Trump’s comments the virus does not yet seem to be disappearing.
28 February: “We’re ordering a lot of supplies. We’re ordering a lot of, uh, elements that frankly we wouldn’t be ordering unless it was something like this. But we’re ordering a lot of different elements of medical”
"We're ordering a lot of supplies. We're ordering a lot of, uh, elements that frankly we wouldn't be ordering unles… https://t.co/cLEAjLJKPe
During a White House lawn briefing, Trump brags about his big supply loads. Cool bro! Companies like Amazon have begun to ask employees to practice social distancing and large tech conferences are being cancelled. Working coronavirus kits are still not available in every US after previous batches had to be recalled. This is… not ideal.
2 March: “You take a solid flu vaccine, you don’t think that could have an impact, or much of an impact, on corona?” and “A lot of things are happening, a lot of very exciting things are happening and they’re happening very rapidly.”
"I told the pharmaceutical companies that they have to do a better job on that vaccine" -- Trump admits he just lea… https://t.co/0avs71ORyx
As 102 coronavirus cases are confirmed in the US, Trump holds a little roundtable with health experts in which he says a lot of “exciting” things are happening and wonders whether a flu vaccine can be used for coronavirus. “No,” an expert responds. They also tell him a usable vaccine probably won’t be available for a year. Later, he tells a rally (at which thousands of supporters pack together) that he thinks closing the borders stops infection and that he told pharmaceutical companies to “do a little bit better job on that vaccine”. Righto!
4 March: “If we have thousands of people that get better just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work – some of them go to work, but they get better”
KNOWN US INFECTIONS: 158
Big day for Trump as he tells FOX News that people should go to work to “get better”. Elsewhere, cases are occurring by the dozens as community spread gets underway and the House votes on an $8.3 billion coronavirus package. Rep Matt Gaetz tweets a joke picture of himself in a gasmask. He is later quarantined.
5 March “I never said people that are feeling sick should go to work” and “The United States, has as of now, only 129 cases (40 Americans brought in) and 11 deaths”
KNOWN US INFECTIONS: 205
24 hours later and Trump is backtracking on something he definitely said. He also tweets there are only 129 cases of coronavirus, despite 205 being reported by news outlets. Nurses union National Nurses United say 80 of its members are self-quarantining and Maryland and Colorado report their first confirmed cases.
6 March “I think we’re doing a really good job in this country at keeping it down… a tremendous job at keeping it down”
“Anybody right now, and yesterday, anybody that needs a test gets a test. And the tests are beautiful. They are perfect just like the letter was perfect. The transcription was perfect. Right? This was not as perfect as that but pretty good”
“I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it. Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for president”
KNOWN US INFECTIONS: 282
Trump visits CDC headquarters in Atlanta, touches a lot of people and says a lot of inaccurate things. For a start, cases are steadily climbing, not staying down. And then there’s the tests. “Anybody that needs a test, gets a test”, says Trump. Not true. Among states calling for more tests to meet demands are New York City, California (which has declared a state of emergency) and Los Angeles County. At the time Trump was speaking, the US had only carried out 2,000 tests for coronavirus. As for the comments about natural medical ability… probably best to keep him away from the Hippocratic Oath.
8 March: “We have a perfectly coordinated and fine tuned plan at the White House for our attack on Coronavirus”
Trump takes to the White House lectern to say that coronavirus has “blindsided the world” as he announces new measures to try and rescue a plunging stock market, which has experienced the biggest drop in history. His administration starts discussing potential tax relief for workers affected by the crisis. Universities are beginning to close.
13 March: “I am officially declaring a national emergency”