19 times Trump spread misinformation and confusion about coronavirus

Greg Evans
Friday 02 October 2020 09:15
news

The news that Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have tested positive for coronavirus has rocked the world.

The Trumps tested positive for Covid-19 after the president's close personal aide Hope Hicks began showing symptoms of the illness.

Trump has confirmed that he and his wife will now go into self-isolation, just a month before the presidential election is due to take place.

Up until this point Trump's approach to combatting the virus and preventing its spread has been fairly mixed and confusing, to say the least.

At times he has treated it seriously and admitted just how dangerous he knows it is, but for the majority of 2020 Trump has attempted to play down the virus, point the finger of blame at others and suggest a number of controversial methods on how to cure it.

Whether his tone will change now that he has tested positive for Covid-19 remains to be seen but given today's news, here is a brief rundown of the most confusing pieces of misinformation that Trump has spread about coronavirus.

Called it 'the Democrats' new hoax'

Back in February, when coronavirus was still only a minor concern, Trump told his supporters at a rally in South Carolina that the pandemic was the Democrats' 'new hoax.'

One of my people came up to me and said, ‘Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia. That didn’t work out too well. They couldn’t do it. They tried the impeachment hoax.'

That was on a perfect conversation. They tried anything, they tried it over and over, they’ve been doing it since you got in. It’s all turning, they lost, it’s all turning. Think of it. Think of it. And this is their new hoax.

But you know, we did something that’s been pretty amazing. We’re 15 people [cases of coronavirus infection] in this massive country. And because of the fact that we went early, we went early, we could have had a lot more than that. 

In fairness to Trump. he didn't directly say that the virus was a hoax, more that the criticism of his administration’s response to the pandemic was a hoax... but he still continued to downplay just how many people were dying from the illness even at that stage.

Regardless, both he and the Democrats have exploited the use of the word hoax to their advantage in campaign material.

Said it will go away when the weather gets warmer

Trump has long maintained that coronavirus will just disappear by itself.

One example he gave on how it could just vanish was when the seasons changed and the weather became warmer, causing Covid-19 to get weaker. He tweeted this on 7 February, after having a phone conversation of president Xi of China.

Claimed cases are only high because of how many tests are happening

The United States has by far recorded the highest amount of Covid-19 cases and the most deaths in the world, but according to Trump this is only because of the amount of testing that is happening in the US.

Back on 3 July he said exactly this in a tweet, adding that the death rate was down and that "younger people get better much easier and faster."

Suggested that injecting bleach and exposing yourself to sunlight is a cure

Perhaps the most notorious thing that Trump has said about the virus was back in April when he stated that 'injecting disinfectants and using UV lights on the human body' could combat the virus.

This has never been proven and has since been considered to be extremely dangerous. It was such a ridiculous claim that even Dr Birx, of Trump's own coronavirus taskforce couldn't contain her bafflement.

Bleach manufacturers had to actually tell people not to drink their products but two men in Georgia were hospitalised after trying to consume disinfectants.

Trump has since said that these comments were said in 'sarcasm.'

Claimed in September that the virus 'affects virtually nobody'

Despite everything that has happened this year, Trump was saying as recently as September that the virus was 'affecting virtually nobody.'

Implied that a vaccine would be released very soon

Throughout the year and as early as 2 March, Trump has said that pharmaceutical companies would have a vaccine 'relatively soon.'

Obviously that didn't happen, and by August he said that a vaccine would be ready for Election Day on 3 November.

He even said at the first debate with Joe Biden on Tuesday that "we're only weeks away from a vaccine." The Democrats have remained sceptical about the effectiveness of this seemingly non-existent vaccine, leading to Trump to accuse them of 'denigrating' it.

Mocked Joe Biden for wearing a mask

Speaking of the first debate, Trump caused some outrage when he poked fun at Joe Biden, who is frequently seen wearing a face-covering in public, claiming that there is no need for a mask when everyone has been tested.

Said in January that it 'was under control'

Speaking way back in January when there was just one confirmed case of coronavirus in the United States, Trump claimed during an interview in Davos, Switzerland that the US had everything 'under control' and that things were going to be 'just fine.'

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.

Said cases will be close to zero in February

Just over a month later, Trump was claiming that cases in the US would be 'down close to zero.'

During the 26 February coronavirus task force meeting at the White House, the president said:

I want you to understand something that shocked me when I saw it that — and I spoke with Dr. Fauci on this, and I was really amazed, and I think most people are amazed to hear it: the flu, in our country, kills from 25,000 people to 69,000 people a year.

That was shocking to me. And, so far, if you look at what we have with the 15 people and their recovery, one is — one is pretty sick but hopefully will recover, but the others are in great shape. But think of that: 25,000 to 69,000. And again, when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we've done.

Compared the number of coronavirus deaths to the flu

One thing you may have heard a lot this year is that the flu kills more people per year than coronavirus, which isn't true.

Unsurprisingly this is also something that Trump has said.

Claimed he tried to stay calm to emulate Winston Churchill

The release of a new book by journalist Bob Woodward in September and recordings where Trump admitted to knowing how dangerous the virus was caused the president to go into damage prevention mode.

Trump claimed that he didn't tell the US public about the risks because he was trying to remain calm, just like Winston Churchill had done in the Second World War, which is almost definitely not what the famed prime minister would have done.

Said churches should be open for Easter

It's astonishing to think that at the end of March he was already calling for many places to open back up.

On 24 March, Trump was asking for churches to open up for Easter Sunday and that they should be 'packed.'

I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter. I think Easter Sunday — you'll have packed churches all over our country.

Claimed that lockdown was a big killer than the virus

Multiple times this year, Trump has insensitively suggested that lockdown and the downfall in the economy was leading to anxiety, depression and suicide.

At the 23 March coronavirus task force briefing he said:

This is going away.  We’re – we’re going to win the battle, but we also have... you know, you have tremendous responsibility. 

We have jobs, we have – people get tremendous anxiety and depression, and you have suicides over things like this when you have terrible economies.  You have death. 

Probably and – I mean, definitely – would be in far greater numbers than the numbers that we’re talking about with regard to the virus.

However, previous research into the link between recessions and suicide found that there was no direct connection.

Furthermore, statistics from 2017 show that the number of people who took their own life was nowhere near the total number of people who have died from Covid-19 in the US this year.

Blamed China and Mexico for the spread

Trump has consistently blamed other countries, especially China, for the spread of coronavirus, even resorting to racist language by calling the disease 'China virus' and the 'Wuhan flu,' which he claims isn't racist.

The president even resorted to blaming Mexico when Covid-19 cases began to rise on the southeast.

We're also sharing a 2,000 mile border with Mexico as we know very well and cases are surging in Mexico ... it's a big problem for Mexico but cases are surging very sharply and all across the rest of the Western Hemisphere.

He also during a Fox News interview in June that Tijuana was 'one of the most infected places on Earth.'

Very few people are coming through on our border. We have a tremendous border. Tijuana is one of the most infected places on Earth and we have a wall between there and San Diego. It's like a beautiful and very powerful wall and California is very happy that they have it because they would numbers like you wouldn't believe right now.

Trump had also blamed Black Lives Matter protesters and migrants travelling across the US-Mexico border for the spread. 

Said that the US had the lowest mortality rate in the world in a chaotic interview

Undoubtedly the most embarrassing moment for Trump in the pandemic was a completely chaotic interview that he did with Jonathan Swan of Axios.

In an attempt to claim that America's mortality rate was nowhere near as high as what was being made out, Trump showed Swan a number of statistics and charts which didn't appear to make much sense at all, leading to a humiliating exchange for the president.

Said children are 'virtually immune'

Although the virus is said to have not as great an effect on younger people, there is still no evidence to say anyone, especially youngsters, are immune to the disease.

However, on 5 August, Trump said otherwise:

If you look at children, children are almost – I would almost say definitely – but almost immune from this disease. So few — they’ve gotten stronger. Hard to believe.

I don’t know how you feel about it, but they have much stronger immune systems than we do, somehow, for this. And they don’t have a problem. They just don’t have a problem.

Continuously blamed Obama for not leaving a plan for a pandemic

Trump has consistently blamed the Obama administration for not leaving him a proper plan to prevent a major pandemic.

On multiple occasions he has said that the system he “inherited” was “broken,” “bad,” and “obsolete” and there were no medical supplies left after swine flu, which Trump called a disaster.

Compare that to the Obama/Sleepy Joe disaster known as H1N1 Swine Flu. Poor marks ... didn’t have a clue!

The truth is that the Obama administration never had to deal with a pandemic on the scale of coronavirus so Trump can't really blame them for not having a strategy in place. Except they did.

Here is Barack Obama explaining in 2014, shortly after the Ebola crisis, just what was being do to prevent another catastrophic pandemic in the US (which the Trump administration incidentally chose to discredit)

Lied about Google building a website for coronavirus testing

Back in March and during a speech, Trump suggested that Google was creating a website that would inform users if they should get a coronavirus test or not.

I want to thank Google. Google is helping to develop a website. It’s going to be very quickly done, unlike websites of the past, to determine whether a test is warranted and to facilitate testing at a nearby convenient location.

We have many, many locations behind us, by the way. We cover the — this country in large part. So the world, by the way — we’re not going to be talking about the world right now. But we cover very, very strongly our country. Stores in virtually every location.

Google has 1,700 engineers working on this right now. They’ve made tremendous progress. Our overriding goal is to stop the spread of the virus and to help all Americans who have been impacted by this.

That would have been great, except this is definitely not what the website was. Although the website could determine if someone needed a test or not it was limited to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Insisted on touting Hydroxychloroquine as a cure

Another controversy, which Trump has refused to back down on is malaria drug Hydroxychloroquine can prevent or cure coronavirus.

There is little to no evidence that suggests that the drug can do either, but Trump has been championing it as some sort of miracle medication since March.

In May he even claimed to have been taking it himself but only a few days later, a woman who had been taking it for 19 years, tested positive for coronavirus.

However, Trump persisted with this narrative and even shared footage of Stella Immanuel, a doctor who believes that the government are 'lizards' and 'demon sperm' championing the drug.

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