Trump Uttered 59 Lies About The Pandemic In One Month
Since March 14, Donald Trump has been holding daily press briefings, ostensibly about the COVID-19 pandemic and what his administration is doing to combat it.
In the process, he's told numerous lies on everything from the severity of the virus to his administration's response.
Over the past month, the American Independent has been tracking Trump's lies and distortions.
The list is by no means exhaustive. He has also repeated many of these lies on multiple occasions. However, here are 59 of the worst lies he told in the course of a month, in chronological order.
1. "It's a very contagious virus. It's incredible. But it's something we have tremendous control of." — Trump at a March 15 White House news conference.
Trump claimed he has the coronavirus under control.
However, experts say that is not the case. Public health experts said that the virus was still spreading, and that without drastic social distancing measures, the virus would spread and the number of cases would overwhelm hospitals across the country.
Trump seemed to take that to heart when he said there needed to be a nationwide effort to stay home to avoid infecting others.
When asked what he meant when he said we had "tremendous control," he admitted it wasn't true that the virus is under control, and that he was referring to the response to the virus, not the virus itself.
"I was talking about what we're doing is under control. But I'm not talking about the virus," Trump said.
2. "We have a problem that, a month ago, nobody thought about." — Trump at a March 16 White House news conference.
Actually, the coronavirus has been around for months, with the first case dating back to Nov. 17, 2019, in China, according to the South China Morning Post.
Two former members of Trump's administration were issuing warnings in January that the United States needed to act to "prevent an American epidemic."
Former Vice President Joe Biden also wrote in January as the coronavirus spread across the globe that the "possibility of a pandemic is a challenge Donald Trump is unqualified to handle as president."
3. "I felt this was a pandemic long before it was a pandemic." — Trump at a March 17 White House news conference.
Trump has long downplayed the impacts of the coronavirus, even as experts warned of the spread and how it could overwhelm the United States medical system.
He also said in February that the number of cases of COVID-19 disease was "going very substantially down, not up" in the United States, and that, "It's going to disappear. One day — its like a miracle — it will disappear."
4. "I always treated the Chinese Virus very seriously." — Trumo in a March 18 tweet.
The name Trump used for the novel coronavirus is racist and xenophobic, and has contributed to discrimination and even violence against people of Asian descent. Both the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have warned against use of such terms.
And Trump did not "always" take the virus very seriously.
At a campaign rally on Feb. 28 in Charleston, South Carolina, Trump said concerns over the coronavirus were a "hoax" perpetrated by the Democrats.
He even refused to cancel speeches before large audiences for days, finally relenting after public health experts continually warned that large gatherings were great places for the virus to spread.
5. "It's being signed." — Trump at a March 18 news conference.
Trump's claim that he signed the Defense Production Act — a Korean War-era law that allows the president to mandate businesses produce goods needed during wartime — is misleading.
"It's being signed," Trump said at the White House on March 18. "It's essentially drawn, and I'm going to sign it in just a little while. If we need to use it, we'll be using it at full speed ahead."
In the case of COVID-19 disease, the Defense Production Act would allow Trump to order the production of ventilators. Health care professionals have expressed concerns that there won't be enough of them as the virus spreads and more people fall ill.
But later on March 18, Trump suggested he wasn't invoking the powers just yet, tweeting, "I only signed the Defense Production Act to combat the Chinese Virus should we need to invoke it in a worst case scenario in the future. Hopefully there will be no need, but we are all in this TOGETHER!"
And at a news conference one day later on March 19, Trump said he wasn't going to use the Defense Production Act because governors needed to do the work themselves to get the equipment they need.
"The federal government is not supposed to be out there, buying vast amounts of items and then shipping, you know we're not a shipping clerk," Trump said in the White House briefing room.
6. "It could have been stopped right where it came from: China," — Trump at a March 19 White House news conference.
Trump has been blaming China for the COVID-19 outbreak, calling it by the racist term "Chinese virus."
However, on Jan. 24, Trump was lauding China's efforts to stop the virus' from spreading inside the country.
"China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency," Trump tweeted at the time. "It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!"
7. "It's something that surprised the whole world. If people could've known about it, it could've been stopped in place." — Trump at a March 19 White House news conference.
Trump claimed that no one knew a virus like this was coming.
However, the New York Times reported that the Trump administration had actually conducted a simulation that mimicked almost the exact respiratory virus pandemic we are currently facing just last year – and it was still unprepared and slow to react amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
8. "A drug called Chloroquine … is showing very, very encouraging early results, and we're going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately, and that's where the FDA has been so great, they've gone through the approval process, and it's been approved." — Trump at a March 19 White House news conference.
Trump seemed to claim the Food and Drug Administration had approved a drug used to treat malaria to be used against COVID-19.
According to Bloomberg News, almost immediately after Trump announced this, the FDA pushed back against the claim, saying that it hadn't approved the drug for this use and that it still needs to undergo a clinical trial to ensure it's safe.
9. Trump told nurses the government ordered 500 million N95 respirator masks. — Bloomberg News report on March 19.
Trump reportedly told a group of nurses on March 19 that masks — which are running low in hospitals but are desperately needed to stop the spread of the virus to health care workers on the front lines — were on their way.
However, Trump failed to tell the nurses the masks would take 18 months to arrive, misleading them about the speed in which they'd receive the necessary supply.
10. "I signed an executive order invoking the Defense Production Act, as you all know, giving us powerful new authorities to help states, cities, and hospitals procure needed supplies." — Trump at a March 21 White House news conference.
In the March 21 news conference, Trump said he invoked the DPA, but then quickly admitted that he hasn't actually used the act to compel companies to make these necessary items.
"We have so many companies making so many products — every product that you mentioned, plus ventilators and everything else. We have car companies — without having to use the act," Trump said.
11. "You don't have empty shelves." — Trump at a March 21 White House news conference.
In trying to reassure the nation that the novel coronavirus isn't leading to a shortage in supplies, he said at a March 21 news conference that Walmart is "doing incredibly" and that there are no empty shelves in stores across the country.
But it's untrue that there are no empty shelves in the country, whether at Walmart or other stores.
Images of empty shelves are everywhere you look, with items such as toilet paper, disinfectant wipes, and hand sanitizer in short supply.
12. "General Motors, Ford, so many companies — I had three calls yesterday directly, without having to institute like: 'You will do this' — these companies are making them right now." — Trump at a White House news conference
Unlike what Trump said, the automakers are not currently producing ventilators and masks.
"When you are repurposing a factory, it really depends on how similar the new product is to the existing products in your product line," Kaitlin Wowak, a professor at the University of Notre Dame who studies industrial supply chains, told the Associated Press. "It's going to be a substantial pivot to start producing an entirely different item."
13. "Republicans had a deal until Nancy Pelosi rode into town from her extended vacation. The Democrats want the Virus to win? They are asking for things that have nothing to do with our great workers or companies. They want Open Borders & Green New Deal. Republicans shouldn't agree!" — Trump said in a March 23 tweet.
Trump is trying to throw a wrench into congressional negotiations over a massive piece of financial bailout legislation intended to help workers and businesses suffering from the coronavirus economic fallout.
In the process, he lied about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
She was not on an "extended vacation." She's been negotiating with Trump's Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, for days.
And after two House members tested positive for COVID-19 — with one having to be hospitalized for the illness — she's now weighing alternative voting options.
Trump also lied about the provisions in the bill Pelosi and House Democrats released. — which unlike Trump's claim is focused on workers. It provides direct checks to all families in the country, and is considered an interest-free loan for people who earn over a certain threshold.
It does not call for "open borders," nor is it the "Green New Deal" that Trump claimed — though it does have protections for immigrants and provides grants for the airline industry to work to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
14. "I say we have a very active flu season, more active than most. It's looking like it's heading to 50,000 or more deaths. Deaths, not cases. Fifty thousand deaths, which is — that's a lot. And you look at automobile accidents, which are far greater than any numbers we're talking about. That doesn't mean we're going to tell everybody, 'No more driving of cars.' " — Trump at a March 23 White House news conference.
Trump has been talking about ending social distancing measures earlier than experts have advised because he's worried about the economic impact.
But he used a bad analogy in the process of downplaying the COVID-19 and its death toll.
More than 37,000 people die in car crashes per year, according to the Association for Safe International Road Travel.
However, those deaths aren't all in the same few-week span — which is what the coronavirus threatens to do. And they don't increase at an exponential rate, like the hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 are currently doing. Both of those factors threaten to overwhelm the country's health care system, possibly leading to more deaths.
Trump also failed to acknowledge that there have been numerous laws passed over the years to increase road safety, including seat belt laws, highway safety regulations, and speed limits, among other things.
15. "In a short period of time we've done more testing than South Korea." — Trump said at a March 24 Fox News town hall.
This is misleading.
South Korea has been hailed for flattening the curve of the novel coronavirus without having to resort to the extreme social distancing measures that the United States is taking.
They were able to stop the spread by quickly producing tests for the virus, and conducting them to identify where the virus was spreading and quarantine people who were carriers before it could get out of control.
So far, South Korea has conducted more than 300,000 tests among its 51 million person population, according to the New York Times.
By contrast, the United States has conducted about 170,000 tests as of March 21, according to CNN. That's a far lower rate given the United States has a population of more than 329 million people, according to the Census Bureau.
16. "That was a flu where if you got it you had a 50/50 chance, or very close, of dying." — Trump said at the March 24 Fox News town hall of the 1918 flu.
This is not true.
The 1918 flu did not have a 50 percent fatality rate — it was closer to 2.5 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While it's unclear what the ultimate death rate of COVID-19 will be, the World Health Organization on Monday raised the fatality rate of the virus from 2.1 percent to 4.4 percent.
17. "You're going to have suicides by the thousands." — Trump at the Fox News town hall
Trump has been claiming that more people will die by suicide if the economy doesn't go back to normal than people would die from COVID-19, the disease related to the novel coronavirus.
He first made that claim at a news conference, saying that if social distancing measures weren't lifted, there would be suicides "in far greater numbers than the numbers that we're talking about with regard to the virus."
However, there is no evidence that the economic decline would lead to thousands of suicides. Nor is there evidence that the number of suicides would be higher than COVID-19 deaths.
Back in March, a scientific report found that without any social distancing measures, 2.2 million Americans could die from COVID-19 disease, according to the New York Times.
In comparison, there was one study of the impact of the 2008 financial crisis that found that 10,000 suicides were tied to the economic crisis across the entirety of Europe and North America.
18. "The LameStream Media is the dominant force in trying to get me to keep our Country closed as long as possible in the hope that it will be detrimental to my election success. The real people want to get back to work ASAP. We will be stronger than ever before!" — Trump in a March 25 tweet.
Trump falsely claimed that the media is trying to unnecessarily keep social distancing measures in place to try to hurt his reelection bid.
All of these claims are categorically untrue.
The media is not forcing Trump to do anything. It has been reporting concerns from public health experts, who say that ending social distancing measures too soon will lead to more people dying and an overrun of the country's health care system.
Meanwhile, it's Trump's belief that keeping social distancing measures in place, which hurts the economy, will hurt his reelection chances.
So far, there's no evidence that's true. In fact, Trump's approval rating had initially ticked up during this crisis.
19. "Nobody could have ever seen something like this coming, but now we know, and we know it can happen and happen again. And if it does, somebody is going to be very well prepared because of what we've learned and how we've done." — Trump said at a March 25 White House news conference.
This is untrue.
The National Security Council in 2016 came up with a pandemic playbook, which Trump had access to, Politico reported.
That playbook described a pandemic situation like the one the country has currently found itself in, and it recommended hundreds of steps the Trump administration should have taken as soon as there were signs of an "emerging disease threat anywhere in the world."
China reported the first cases of the novel coronavirus on Dec. 31, 2019, which under the playbook means the Trump administration had months to prepare before the virus was detected in the United States.
Among other things, the playbook called for ensuring hospitals would have the kind of protective gear they are currently lacking and "diagnostic capacity" would be up to speed.
Yet, the Trump administration did none of those things. And now, the virus is spreading, the U.S. economy is cratering, and hospitals are reporting a lack of resources that could increase the death toll.
20. "There is no risk when it's already out there in a different form for a different purpose." Trump said March 26 on "Hannity," regarding experimental drug treatments for COVID-19.
Trump has been pushing experimental treatments for COVID-19; namely, use of the antimalarial drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine.
Experts are hopeful the drug cocktail of the anti-malarial drugs, as well as the use of the antibiotic azithromycin, could be a breakthrough for people suffering severe cases of COVID-19.
However, this strategy is not without risk, as Trump claimed they are.
The Department of Health and Human Services says experimental treatments can come with serious side effects.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the infectious disease expert who sits on the White House's coronavirus task force, has warned that the cocktail of drugs does not have scientific backing.
"The president feels optimistic about something, has feelings about it," Fauci said when Trump first started talking about the experimental treatment. "I am saying it may be effective."
21. "I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers being said in some areas, they're just bigger than they're going to be. I don't believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators." — Trump said March 26 on "Hannity"
Governors have been pleading for Trump to help their states procure lifesaving ventilators for patients arriving at hospitals with severe COVID-19 cases.
In particular, Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo — whose state is at the heart of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States — has said he needs tens of thousands more ventilators for the coming surge of severe cases, and has vowed to pass those ventilators to states who experience surges like New York's down the road.
The need for ventilators in New York has already become desperate, with some hospitals even treating two patients with one ventilator, the New York Times reported.
However, Trump — contrary to evidence — says that New York doesn't need that many ventilators.
And according to the Times, the federal government blew up a deal to produce up to 80,000 ventilators because the Trump administration balked at the price tag.
22. "Everybody wants to go back to work." — Trump said on "Hannity" on March 26.
Trump has been talking about ending social distancing measures by an arbitrary Easter deadline, even though public health officials say that could lead to more deaths and an overrun of the health care system.
To justify his decision, he said people want to go back to work.
However, polling simply does not bear that out.
A Morning Consult/Politico poll released on Tuesday found that 74 percent of voters support social distancing measures.
That support comes from across the political spectrum, with 81 percent of Democrats backing the national quarantine, 72 percent of Republicans, and 69 percent of independents.
23. "Because the 'Ratings' of my News Conferences etc. are so high, 'Bachelor finale, Monday Night Football type numbers' according to the @nytimes, the Lamestream Media is going CRAZY. 'Trump is reaching too many people, we must stop him.' said one lunatic. See you at 5:00 P.M.!" — Trump in a March 29 tweet.
Reporters at media outlets have begged television executives to stop airing Trump's daily coronavirus briefings in full, saying that they are exposing the public to Trump's lies and distortions of the pandemic and doing a disservice to the country.
"These White House sessions — ostensibly meant to give the public critical and truthful information about this frightening crisis — are in fact working against that end," Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan wrote about why networks should stop airing the news conferences in full.
"Rather, they have become a daily stage for Trump to play his greatest hits to captive audience members. They come in search of life-or-death information, but here's what they get from him instead: Self-aggrandizement… Media-bashing… Exaggeration and outright lies."
24. "If we can hold that down … to have between 100,000 and 200,000 we've all together done a very good job." — Trump at a March 29 White House news conference, referring to COVID-19 deaths.
Trump attempted to lower expectations regarding his administration's efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
He explained that without any efforts, models showed there could be more than 2 million deaths, so if there were between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths that should be considered a win.
Of course, Trump had access to a pandemic preparation plan long ago that could have greatly reduced the number of expected deaths. According to Politico, the administration was briefed on the 69-page National Security Council playbook, titled "Playbook for early response to high consequence emerging infectious disease threats and biological incidents," back in 2017. However, according to the outlet, "it never went through a full, National Security Council-led interagency process to be approved as Trump administration strategy."
The 200,000 deaths experts have predicted might occur from the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak would be more than the Vietnam War (58,220 Americans), the Korean War (54,246 Americans), the Iraq War (4,431 Americans), and the war in Afghanistan (2,353 Americans), combined.
25. "They're carrying out contracts to build ventilators, and they've started already." — Trump at a March 29 meeting at the White House.
This lie has been debunked numerous times.
While Trump claims that life-saving ventilators are in the works, General Motors told CNN's Daniel Dale over the weekend that the company is not yet producing ventilators.
It takes time for companies to amend their production lines to make a totally new kind of device. Instead of starting this process weeks ago, Trump has dragged his feet on actually invoking the Defense Production Act, which allows a president to force companies to produce necessary equipment in war time.
26. "I didn't say that. I didn't say that. I didn't say that." — Trump at a March 29 White House news conference on previous comments he made saying he didn't "believe" New York needed more ventilators.
Trump lied when he denied that he ever said that New York doesn't actually need the 30,000 to 40,000 ventilators Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has requested.
Trump said exactly that on Fox News host Sean Hannity's program three days earlier.
"I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers being said in some areas, they're just bigger than they're going to be. I don't believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators," Trump said on March 26.
27. "They've been delivering for years 10,000 to 20,000 masks. OK it's a New York hospital, it's packed all the time. How do you go from 10,000 to 20,000 to 300,000 ... even though this is different? Something's going on, and you oughta look into it. Where are the masks going? Are they going out the back door?" — Trump at a White House news conference.
Trump seemed to lay blame for the lack of personal protective equipment — such as masks and gowns for doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals — on hospital staff.
There is no evidence that health care professionals are stealing PPE.
In reality, the lack of proper protective gear may be to blame for at least one death in New York City. Earlier this month, Kious Kelly, a nurse manager at Mount Sinai West in Manhattan, died of COVID-19 after being placed on a ventilator in the intensive care unit. His fellow nurses — who say they had resorted to wearing trash bags because of the lack of PPE — said they had been told to "reuse our masks, gowns and ... [face] shield[s]," due to a shortage of supplies.
"We were told, 'You get one for the entire time until this is over,'" one nurse told the New York Post.
Trump is facing criticism from governors across the country, who say that he is not helping level the playing field for states to receive affordable PPE and other life-saving medical equipment.
28. "It will go away, and I do want them to stay calm, and we are doing a great job. If you look at those individual statements, they're all true. 'Stay calm, it will go away,' you know it is going away, and it will go away, and we're going to have a great victory. And it's people like you and CNN that say things like that, that, it's why people just don't want to listen to CNN anymore." — Trump at a March 30 White House news conference.
CNN's Jim Acosta asked Trump why he downplayed the coronavirus in the early days, with Acosta reading off Trump's statements that the virus would go away and wouldn't cause problems in the United States.
Trump claimed that his comments were true, insisting the virus will go away.
However, Trump's initial predictions that the virus would not take hold in the United States turned out to be false.
As of March 30, 163,575 people in the United States had tested positive for the virus, with the death toll standing at 3,073, according to the New York Times.
29. "It's very much on par. … I know South Korea better than anybody. … Do you know how many people are in Seoul? Do you know how big the city of Seoul is? … 38 million people. That's bigger than anything we have." — Trump at a March 30 White House news conference.
In trying to defend why the United States' per capita coronavirus testing does not match South Korea's, Trump botched the number of people living in the country's largest city — despite claiming he knew the country "better than anybody."
The actual population of Seoul is 9.74 million, according to South Korea's Ministry of the Interior and Safety.
Ultimately, South Korea has done more testing per capita than the United States, despite Trump's claim that the per capita testing is "on par."
South Korea — which averted a disaster from COVID-19 without having to resort to the same extreme social distancing measures as the United States — conducted 154.7 tests per million people in the country, according to the Washington Post. (South Korea has a total population of 51.84 million, according to its Interior Ministry.)
Meanwhile, the United States had tested 894,000 people as of Saturday, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, and has a population of 329 million.
30. "What would've happened if we did nothing. Because there was a group that said, 'Let's just ride it out. Let's ride it out.' And what would've happened? And that number comes in at 1.5 to 1.6 million people, up to 2.2 and even beyond, so that's 2.2 million people would've died if we did nothing." Trump at a White House news conference.
While it's unclear what group advised Trump to "ride out" the virus, it's worth mentioning that Trump himself was very resistant early on to calls for stay-at-home orders, fearing that the economic impact of such orders would imperil his reelection chances.
He even claimed in February that the virus would "miraculously" go away by April. It is now April 1 and the virus has seen exponential growth in the United States.
In fact, Trump announced that he wanted to reopen the country by Easter — which falls on April 12 — despite the fact that experts said that date was too early and could lead to more people dying. Trump has already reversed course, extending social distancing guidelines through at least the end of April.
The New York Times reported that Trump finally relented to keeping the guidelines in place when he was presented with numbers showing how many people would die if the country reopened too soon — and how that would negatively impact his reelection chances.
31. "This is not the flu." — Trump at a March 30 White House news conference
This is a marked change of position for Trump, who in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak downplayed the virus and compared it to the seasonal flu.
On March 9, as the stock market began to tumble and experts were calling for swift action to stop the spread of the virus, Trump said COVID-19 was not a big deal and that more people die of the flu than would die of complications from the novel coronavirus.
"So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!" Trump tweeted on March 9.
32. "They're doing very well by comparison." — Trump at a March 31 White House news conference.
Trump was asked what he'd tell states that haven't implemented strict social distancing measures. When he was asked about Florida, whose Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has resisted calls to implement stay-at-home orders, Trump responded by saying that Florida is "doing very well by comparison" to other states that have implemented orders, such as New Jersey, New York, and Washington state.
But Florida is seeing an outbreak.
According to data from Johns Hopkins, which is tracking COVID-19 cases, shows that the state had at the time of Trump's comment the fifth most confirmed cases in the country, with 6,741 positive tests and 85 reported deaths.
On March 31, the state reported 1,037 new COVID-19 cases — an ominous milestone, as it is the first time the state reported more than 1,000 new cases in a single day, according to Dr. Matt McCarthy, a hospitalist and professor Weill Cornell in New York.
33. "There are some states that don't have much of a problem." — Trump at an April 1 White House news conference.
Trump said he hasn't pushed for a national stay-at-home order because some states don't need it.
Every state and U.S. territory has reported COVID-19 cases, according to a New York Times database.
The Trump administration's surgeon general said earlier on April 1 that the Trump administration's "30 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines should effectively serve as a national stay-at-home order for the 11 GOP-controlled states that haven't issued official demands for residents to stay home.
"My advice to America would be that these guidelines are a national stay-at-home order," Surgeon General Jeropme Adams told NBC's Savannah Guthrie.
Adams added that there is no national order because the federal government cannot force states to implement a stay-at-home policy. But he said all Americans should stay home because of the "importance of social distancing."
34. "We didn't do that, that turned out to be a false story." — Trump at an April 1 White House news conference.
Trump was asked about why he is blaming former President Barack Obama for his own administration's coronavirus response, even though it took actions that exacerbated the outbreak — such as disbanding the National Security Council's pandemic unit in 2018.
Trump said it is a "false story" that he disbanded the unit and criticized the Fox News reporter who asked the question.
Yet, Trump did indeed disband the unit put in place to prepare for future pandemics, as multiple news outlets have reported. The head of the unit even wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post confirming it was disbanded, a move she said left her "mystified."
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of Trump's coronavirus task force, also confirmed this when he testified at a congressional hearing on the coronavirus response on March 11.
"It would be nice if the office was still there," Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institute of Health, said at the hearing.
35. "After a month or so, I think once this passes, we're not going to have to be hopefully worried too much about the virus." — Trump at an April 1 White House news conference
Trump's timeline for when coronavirus will pass has no basis in evidence.
A plan the federal government drew up in early March said the COVID-19 pandemic "will last 18 months or longer" — far longer than what Trump had said, the New York Times reported.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said that social distancing measures can be relaxed once there are "no new cases, no deaths at a period of time."
In New York alone, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the peak of the virus — when the most new cases and deaths are expected — is one to three weeks away. After that, there will still be new cases and deaths, but health experts predict they will increase at a smaller rate until eventually leveling off.
Other states across the country are just starting to see the virus take hold, pushing their timelines far later than what Trump gave at Wednesday's briefing.
But the country still won't be out of the woods if the virus starts trending down before summer, with experts saying there will likely be "multiple waves."
China is already grappling with this reality, with Hong Kong implementing new social distancing measures after the cases of COVID-19 started trending upward again, CNN reported.
36. "They are doing tests on airlines — very strong tests — for getting on and getting off. They're doing tests on trains — getting on, getting off." — Trump at an April 1 White House news conference
No evidence has yet surfaced that airlines and train services are testing passengers for COVID-19 when they get on and off.
Generally speaking, testing for the virus itself is in short supply. And tests would not come back quickly enough to determine if a passenger can immediately board a train or aircraft. Doctors have said that test results take anywhere from 24 hours to as long as a week to come back, with some patients reporting that they waited even longer to receive results.
Amtrak, a national passenger railroad service, posted an advisory about the measures the company is taking to stop the spread of the virus, and testing passengers is not listed.
Major passenger airlines have not made any announcements saying they are testing passengers. United Airlines, for example, says it's doing extra thorough cleanings on its aircraft. Delta and American Airlines have said the same. But none have said they'll offer tests.
37. "We are doing better than that. We are going to get a cash payment to the people, and we are working out the mechanics of that with legislatures. So we are going to try to get them a cash payment, because just opening it up doesn't help as much." — Trump at an April 2 White House news conference
The Trump administration has faced criticism for not offering a new enrollment period for Obamacare health care exchanges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Each year, Americans can enroll in a health insurance plan during what's called the "Open Enrollment" period. If they miss out on that opportunity, Americans are unable to purchase insurance until the next enrollment period.
Certain qualifying life events allow Americans to purchase insurance during the year, including losing a job, having a baby, or getting married. So the nearly 10 million people who have filed for unemployment benefits should be able to purchase insurance through Obamacare exchanges if they need to.
But some of the 27.9 million uninsured Americans may not fall into any of those categories and would have no health insurance if they were to need medical care for COVID-19.
Trump claimed that a special enrollment period wouldn't help as much as a cash payment to Americans, and he said he was working with state legislatures to get those cash payments out.
It's unclear what he's referring to.
The relief bill Congress passed does offer cash payments of up to $1,200 to people who fall within a certain income level.
But $1,200 wouldn cover barely more than a fraction of an extended hospital stay in an intensive care unit for an uninsured person.
According to Healthcare.gov — the federal government's website with information on Obamacare — the average cost of a three-day hospital stay is $30,000 for people without insurance.
Time reported the story of Danni Askini, a woman without health insurance who came down with COVID-19 and required multiple hospital visits and tests during her treatment. Askini received a bill for $34,927.43 for the treatment.
38. "In many cases the scarf is better. It's thicker. Depending on the material, it's thicker." — Trump at an April 2 White House news conference
Trump was asked about whether the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were going to recommend everyone in the country wear masks in public — even amid a critical shortage of protective masks for health care providers.
Trump said the CDC will not make it mandatory but suggested that if people cannot find masks they use scarves to cover their face. Trump said a scarf may even be better than a mask at preventing the spread of the virus.
Doctors told CNBC that in the absence of a mask, a scarf could be a good option to protect against airborne virus droplets.
But unlike what Trump said, there is no "empirical evidence" that a scarf is better than a mask, CNBC reported.
39. "Some states are letting people out of prison. Some people are getting out that are very serious criminals in some states, and I don't like that. I don't like it." — Trump at an April 2 White House news conference.
Trump is correct that some states are releasing inmates from jails, as facilities remain at high risk for COVID-19 outbreaks.
But so far, they have not been "very serious criminals," as Trump alleged.
In cities like New York and Los Angeles, those let out have been nonviolent offenders, some of whom were sentenced to less than a year in prison or were scheduled to be released in 30 days or less, the New York Times reported. New York City has released 900 inmates, while California plans to release 3,500 inmates earlier than anticipated, according to the Los Angeles Times.
In New Jersey, the 700 inmates who have been released were convicted of low-level crimes, according to another New York Times report.
Even the Trump administration is recommending that federal prisons release some prisoners to home confinement.
40. "There'll be a lot of death, unfortunately, but a lot less death than if this wasn't done. But there will be death." Trump at an April 4 White House news conference.
Trump claimed the measures his administration has taken have prevented hundreds of thousands of people from dying, possibly trying to set expectations for how many people will die from COVID-19,With a new messaging pivot, Trump and his team have been laying groundwork to take credit for keeping the death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic below the most doomsday of forecasts.
Without any social distancing measures or other interventions, one model predicted as many as 2.2 million people could have died from the virus in the United States.
With strict social distancing measures in place in most states across the country, that forecast stands at between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths — more than the death toll from the Vietnam War, Korean War, Iraq War, and the war in Afghanistan combined.
Trump wants the country to believe that a death toll below 240,000 is a win for him and the administration.
Yet according to an in-depth look at the Trump administration's response to the pandemic from the Washington Post, the death toll could have been even lower had the Trump administration actually been prepared for a pandemic like COVID-19.
The Washington Post reported that the administration lagged as the novel coronavirus spread, wasting 70 days that could have been used to create and procure diagnostic tests, as well as produce the kind of resources needed to treat patients stricken with the virus — such as personal protective equipment and ventilators.
Instead, the Trump administration focused on "border control and repatriation," while Trump publicly downplayed COVID-19 — letting the virus spread in the United States.
According to the Washington Post's report — which relied on nearly 4 dozen interviews with administration officials — the slow response is Trump's fault.
"Many of the failures to stem the coronavirus outbreak in the United States were either a result of, or exacerbated by, his leadership," the Washington Post reported.
41. "Our country had the greatest economic boom in history." Trump at an April 5 White House news conference.
A reporter asked Trump if he could see a "light at the end of the tunnel" for the country's economy — which has taken a serious blow as the country copes with the spread of COVID-19.
In responding, Trump lied about how strong the economy was prior to the virus.
Trump did not oversee the "greatest economy boom in history."
Prior to the coronavirus-fueled economic slump, the economy grew 2.9 percent in 2018, according to data from the World Bank. But that'sfar from the highest growth rate the United States has seen.
In 2004, the economy saw a 3.7 percent growth rate, according to the World Bank.
In the technology boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s, the economy saw a more than 4 percent annual growth rate.
And in 1984, the economy saw a staggering 7.2 percent growth rate, according to World Bank data.
42. "It can help them, but it's not going to hurt them. That's the beauty of it...what do you have to lose?" — Trump at an April 5 White House news conference.
Trump once again pushed for the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19.
Discussion of the possible use of the drug came after two small studies from China and France, which some have argued are flawed, found it may help treat COVID-19,. However, the drug has not had clinical trials that prove it is an effective treatment. And another French study found the drug is not effective l.
A reporter asked Trump why he is pushing a drug that hasn't been fully tested and vetted for use, which led Trump to claim that the drug cannot hurt someone who takes it.
Trump has been hyping the use of the drug for weeks and even said at a previous news conference that he may take the drug himself — even though he's tested negative for the virus.
"I think people should — if it were me — in fact, I might do it anyway. I may take it," Trump said, referring to hydroxychloroquine. "Okay? I may take it. And I'll have to ask my doctors about that, but I may take it."
But experts vociferously disagree that the drug is effective or even safe, saying it could have negative consequences — including death.
"Just because a molecule or a drug works in a lab or in a petri dish, does not mean that it's going to work on patients," Dr. Patrice Harris, president of the American Medical Association, said on CNN. "There could be negative side effects. There could be deaths. This is a new virus and so we should not be promoting any medication or drug for use that has not been proven and approved by the FDA."
Axios reported that Dr. Anthony Fauci, who sits on Trump's coronavirus task force, has pushed back against the administration's hyping of the drug.believes there needs to be more testing done a belief that sparked a heated argument among task force members.
43. "It's just wrong. Did I hear the word 'inspector general,' really? It's wrong." — Trump at an April 6 White House news conference.
Trump berated a reporter who asked about a report from the Department of Health and Human Services' inspector general that there is a severe shortage of COVID-19 tests at hospitals across the country.
"Hospitals reported that severe shortages of testing supplies and extended waits for test results limited hospitals' ability to monitor the health of patients and staff," the report said.
Trump said the report is wrong, without providing any evidence to support his claim.
He also pointed to the fact that it was conducted by an inspector general — or a government watchdog.
Trump has taken issue with IGs for simply doing their job.
He fired the intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson, who handed over the complaint that ultimately led to Trump's impeachment to Congress. Atkinson said he "faithfully discharged" his duties when he gave Congress the whistleblower complaint about Trump's scheme to force Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.
And Atkinson told other IGs that the treatment he received for doing his job shouldn't discourage them from carrying out their duties.
Please do not allow recent events to silence your voices," Atkinson said in a statement.
44. "It's really been performing well. Couple of little glitches, minor glitches, that have already been taken care of." — Trump at an April 6 White House news conference.
Trump was asked about problems with the Small Business Administration's $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program.
The program is part of the $2 trillion rescue package Congress passed in March. It provides loans to businesses to "keep their workforce employed during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis," the SBA says on its website.
CNN and several other outlets reported that there have been problems with the program. Banks have cited a lack of guidance from the federal government on how they should verify information in applications, as well as how they should be distributing the funds for approved applications, among other issues.
Politico also reported that the system the SBA uses to process the loans was crashing, while also requesting information businesses didn't know they had to provide.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) admitted there are issues with rolling out the funds.
"Any time you design a program that applies to 90 percent of the companies in America, and spends $345 billion and has six days to do it, you're going to have glitches," Rubio said in a video message posted to Twitter. "And that's what we're seeing with PPP. The key is, is it getting better every single day, … So don't lose hope, it will get better every single day, we are not going to leave small business behind."
45. "Initially speaking, the tests were old, obsolete, and not really prepared" — Trump at an April 6 White House news conference.
Trump continues to try to lay blame for his administration's slow response to the COVID-19 pandemic on former President Barack Obama.
At an April 6 news conference, Trump again blamed the current lack of testing for the virus on the Obama administration, saying Obama left the Trump administration with "obsolete" tests.
Trump has been making such claims for over a week now.
However, COVID-19 is a disease caused by a novel coronavirus — novel meaning the virus is new and has never been seen before.
Obama did not make tests for this virus because it didn't exist when he was president.
46. "The cases really didn't build up for a while. " Trump at an April 7 White House news conference.
Trump was asked about his previous claim that the novel coronavirus would miraculously go away.
Trump insisted that a statement he made on Feb. 26 that the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States would soon be "close to zero" was not wrong.
He then tried to defend that comment, saying that the cases "really didn't build up for a while."
However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of cases jumped from 15 to over 1,000 just two weeks after Trump made that statement. Further, experts warned from the beginning that the numbers of cases would increase.
"It's not a question of if this will happen, but when this will happen, and how many people in this country will have severe illnesses," Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a conference call with reporters on Feb. 25, one day before Trump's claim that the virus wouldn't spread in the United States.
Experts have also said it's possible that the actual number of cases may have been higher, but the country's lack of testing capability impacted the data.
47. "The WHO, that's the World Health Organization, receives vast amounts of money from the United States. ... We pay for — we give a majority of the money that they get." Trump at an April 7 White House news conference.
Trump said the United States supplies the "majority" of the WHO's funding.
In actuality, the United States government funded 14.67 percent of the U.N. health agency's budget from 2018-2019, according its own report — far from a majority of the group's funding.
It is true that the United States is the single largest contributor to the organization.
The second largest contributor is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which supplies 9.76 percent of the agency's funding.
48. "When I learned about the gravity of it was sometime just prior to closing the country to China." — Trump at an April 8 White House news conference.
Trump claimed he didn't know how serious the new coronavirus threat was until just before he imposed restrictions on people traveling to the United States from China.
Trump announced travel restrictions on Jan. 31. Those restrictions directed U.S. citizens to one of eight airports in the country that could provide extra screening for the virus.
But multiple reports suggest Trump had warnings of the peril the novel coronavirus posed days, weeks, and sometimes months, before he says he understood the gravity of the situation.
Two days before Trump announced travel restrictions, his trade adviser Peter Navarro sent a memo saying a "pandemic scenario should not be overlooked," the New York Times reported.
Trump claimed he didn't see the memo at the time.
"Peter sends a lot of memos," Trump said. "I didn't see the memo."
ABC News also reported that the intelligence community was warning in November that the coronavirus could cause a "cataclysmic event" — months before Trump said he learned how big of a problem the novel coronavirus posed.
Not to mention, Reporters were asking Trump about the coronavirus nearly 10 days before his travel restriction announcement — suggesting some in the public were already aware of the potential danger.
"Do you have a plan to contain the coronavirus?" CBS' Paula Reid asked Trump on Jan. 22, almost 10 days before he later said he learned the "gravity" of the situation.
As all of these warnings were coming in, Trump was downplaying the virus, saying he had it "under control" and that the virus was just going to disappear.
49. "We have the best — right now, the best testing system in the world." — Trump at an April 9 White House news conference.
Unlike Trump's claim, the United States has not been the global model for COVID-19 testing.
In fact, the lack of testing for COVID-19 has been one of the biggest criticisms of the Trump administration's response to this pandemic.
"Unfortunately, states really are on their own," Joia Mukherjee, medical director of Partners in Health, told the Washington Post. "It's problematic at best and egregious at worst, because some states have more resources than others; some states have more leadership than others."
Experts instead point to South Korea — which quickly created tests and ramped up testing capability — as a model for how to avoid the economic devastation the COVID-19 pandemic caused in the United States.
"After the first cases appeared, the South Korean government ramped up testing at a speed almost unimaginable in the United States," Gregg A. Brazinsky, professor of international affairs at George Washington University, wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Post. "Its swift response slowed the spread of the virus and saved thousands of lives."
Experts now say that a national testing system is needed to allow the United States to ease social distancing measures and return to some semblance of normalcy, CNN reported.
But on April 9, Trump said a national testing system is "not going to happen."
"We want to have it, and we're going to see if we have it," Trump said the April 9 news conference of a national testing system. "Do you need it? No. Is it a nice thing to do? Yes. We're talking about 325 million people. And that's not going to happen, as you can imagine."
50. "I was criticized for moving too fast when I issued the China Ban, long before most others wanted to do so." — Trump in an April 12 tweet.
Trump lashed out at the media, after the New York Times published a bombshell report on his "failure" to stop the COVID-19 pandemic that has led to more than 22,000 deaths in the United States.
To defend himself, Trump overstated one of the first steps he took to stop the spread of the virus.
It was not a full-fledged "ban" on travelers from China as he described, but rather travel restrictions that still allowed people who had been in China — where the virus was first detected — to return to the United States.
The New York Times reported that nearly 40,000 people have come to the United States from China since Trump announced the travel restrictions. And the Associated Press reported in March — more than a month after the restrictions went into place — that many of those travelers received no screening for the virus.
Trump was also not criticized because he moved too fast with a travel ban, but rather because the ban was still not enough to contain the virus.
That criticism even came from former members of his own administration.
Tom Bossert, a former Trump homeland security adviser, tweeted on March 12 that, "We will regret wasting time and energy on travel restrictions and wish we focused more on hospital preparation and large scale community mitigation."
51. "Nobody is asking for ventilators." — Trump at an April 13 White House news conference.
Governors in states across the country have been pleading for the federal government to help them procure ventilators — expensive machines that are critical for patients in severe respiratory distress from COVID-19.
Those same governors said the federal government did not do an adequate job of ensuring that their states could procure those machines.
Some said they only received a fraction of the equipment they requested. And a number of the ventilators they received from the federal government arrived broken.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state needed tens of thousands of ventilators to help battle the COVID-19 pandemic. But he said he had to bid against other states to get that equipment, raising costs.
"You now literally will have a company call you up and say, 'Well, California just outbid you,'" Cuomo said at a March 31 news conference. "It's like being on eBay with 50 other states, bidding on a ventilator."
52. "When somebody's the president of the United States, the authority is total and that's the way it's got to be." — Trump at an April 13 White House news conference.
Trump falsely proclaimed that he has the absolute power to decide when the country will reopen for business amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In reality, it was governors of individual states that made the call whether to institute shelter-in-place orders — and it will be those same governors who decide when to lift those mandates.
Currently, groups of regional governors are working together to create plans on how they will reopen their states for business.
Trump, for his part, has only issued non-binding guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic. And the first guideline is to, "Listen to and follow the directions of your STATE AND LOCAL AUTHORITIES." (Capitalization and bolding was from the White House itself.)
Legal experts also agree that Trump does not have "total" authority to reopen the country for business.
Stephen Vladeck, a CNN legal analyst and professor at the University of Texas, tweeted, "The President has no formal legal authority to categorically override local or state shelter-in-place orders or to reopen schools and small businesses. No statute delegates to him such power; no constitutional provision invests him with such authority."
Reporters at the press conference asked Trump to name the provision in the Constitution that gives him the power to reopen states' economies.
"Numerous — numerous provisions. We'll give you a legal brief if you want," Trump said, never actually naming a provision.
53. "That's because I let that happen. … But if I wanted to, I could've closed it up." — Trump at an April 13 White House news conference, referring to school closures across the country.
As Trump was proclaiming he had the "absolute power" to reopen the country to business, he was asked by a reporter why that was the case if it was governors who closed schools in their states.
Trump then claimed that he was the one who let school closures happen, suggesting without any evidence that he could've overridden them.
Again, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised state and local officials on March 13 to close schools, it was ultimately those state and local authorities who had the power to make that call.
And Trump only made the recommendation to close schools at a White House news conference on March 16 — nearly a week after schools started closing in some counties in Washington state, one of the earliest locations to experience a COVID-19 outbreak in the United States.
Ultimately, it will be those same state and local authorities who make the decision on when to reopen schools.
As legal scholars said, the Constitution does not have a provision granting Trump the power to unilaterally override state and local decision making.
According to the 10th Amendment, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."
Even GOP lawmakers who support Trump conceded this.
"The federal government does not have absolute power," Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) tweeted.
54. "I'm the only leader of a country that closed our borders tightly against China." — Trump at an April 14 White House news conference.
Trump lied about the steps other countries took to restrict travel from China in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and overstated the travel restrictions he himself placed on the country.
Trump did not "tightly" close the United States' borders to China. He merely instituted restrictions that diverted flights from China to a handful of airports in the United States, where travelers were supposed to receive heightened screenings.
More than 40,000 people traveled to the United States from China after Trump placed restrictions on travel from the country, the New York Times reported. And many of those travelers did not receive heightened screening, according to the Associated Press.
Trump's claim that other countries didn't restrict travel from China is also false.
The Washington Post reported that 38 other countries also restricted travel from China, with some of them taking those moves, "before or at the same time the U.S. restrictions were put in place."
55. "I don't talk about China's transparency." — Trump at an April 14 White House news conference.
Trump lied about comments he's made publicly about China, falsely claiming that he has never talked about China's "transparency" about the novel coronavirus.
In a tweet on Jan. 24, Trump directly complimented China for its transparency about the virus, which was first detected in China in December 2019.
"China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency," Trump said in the Jan. 24 tweet. "It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!"
56. "On testing — very important — we've always wanted the states to do the testing." — Trump at an April 14 White House news conference.
Trump's claim that he always wanted states to handle coronavirus tests rather than the federal government is false.
On March 13, Trump promised that the federal government, in conjunction with major pharmacy chains, was going to open drive-through testing locations across the country.
"We've been in discussions with pharmacies and retailers to make drive-through tests available in the critical locations identified by public health professionals," Trump said at a news briefing with leaders from CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens.
Since that announcement, those companies have opened less than a dozen sites across the country, according to NPR.
Mike Pence also promised in March that the federal government was going to send tests to the states — another indicator that Trump didn't "always" want states to handle the procurement of COVID-19 tests on their own.
Trump has also refused to take responsibility for the lack of testing.
"I don't take responsibility at all," Trump said at that same March 13 news conference.
57. "[China] is considered a developing nation? And we're not? Well we're a developing nation too, in my book. We're developing too." — Trump at an April 15 White House news conference.
The United States is not a developing nation.
The United States ranks 15th in the United Nations' 2019 Human Development Index, which the UN defines as "a summary measure of average achievement in key dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and [having] a decent standard of living."
China is 85th on the list.
58. "Well, I don't know too much about it, but I understand my name is there. I don't know where they're going, how they're going, I do understand it's not delaying anything, and I'm satisfied with that. I don't imagine it's a big deal, I'm sure people will be very happy to get a big, fat, beautiful check, and my name is on it." — Trump at an April 15 White House news conference.
Trump said he doesn't know why his name is being added to the millions of economic relief checks set to be mailed out to Americans as part of the federal government's coronavirus relief package.
Administration officials told the Washington Post that Trump himself asked that his name appear on the checks.
According to the report from the Post, Trump asked Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin if he could sign the checks himself. However, presidents do not have the authority to be the signatory, so he "settled" for his name appearing on the memo line of the checks.
Trump claimed that the addition of his name to the checks would not delay the payments.
However, the Washington Post reported that Trump's demand could delay payments by a few days, according to officials at the IRS.
59. "America wants to be open. And Americans want to be open." — Trump at an April 16 White House news conference.
Trump announced a set of loose guidelines on April 16 for how the United States can reopen for business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
And to build support for his proposal, he falsely claimed that Americans want to get back to work during the pandemic.
But multiple polls have found that voters don't want to reopen for business if it poses a risk to their health.
A Politico/Morning Consult poll released on April 15 found that 81 percent of voters want to "continue to social distance for as long as is needed to curb the spread of coronavirus, even if it means continued damage to the economy."
A Gallup poll released on April 14 found similar results, with just 20 percent of Americans saying they would "return to their normal activities immediately."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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