A timeline of Trump and Covid-19
In early 2018, Julia Belluz argued that Trump was “setting up the US to botch a pandemic response” by, for example, forcing US government agencies to retreat from 39 of the 49 low-income countries they were working in on tasks like training disease detectives and building emergency operations centers.
Instead of taking such warnings to heart, later that year, “the Trump administration fired the government’s entire pandemic response chain of command, including the White House management infrastructure,” according to Laurie Garrett, a journalist and former senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.
When Trump was first warned about this virus by his intelligence experts in January, he dismissed it. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar could not get Trump to listen to his warning in January. Trump instead wanted to discuss vaping. Throughout the rest of January he ignored warnings from White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and others.
The CDC confirmed the virus first appeared in a 35 year old man in Washington State on January 20.
When asked by the media about the threat to the US from CV, Trump said:
Jan. 22: “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.” — Trump in a CNBC interview.
Jan. 30: “We think we have it very well under control. We have very little problem in this country at this moment — five — and those people are all recuperating successfully. But we’re working very closely with China and other countries, and we think it’s going to have a very good ending for us … that I can assure you.” — Trump in a speech in Michigan.
Feb. 2: ”We pretty much shut it down coming in from China.”
Feb. 10: “Now, the virus that we’re talking about having to do — you know, a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat — as the heat comes in. Typically, that will go away in April. We’re in great shape though. We have 12 cases — 11 cases, and many of them are in good shape now.” — Trump at the White House.
Trump’s latest budget proposed huge cuts to the CDC. Even on February 11, Trump was still proposing huge cuts to both CDC and the National Institute of Health.
Feb. 14: “There’s a theory that, in April, when it gets warm — historically, that has been able to kill the virus. So we don’t know yet; we’re not sure yet. But that’s around the corner.” — Trump in speaking to National Border Patrol Council members.
Feb. 22: ”The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC and World Health have been working hard and smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”
Feb. 23: “We have it very much under control in this country.” — Trump in speaking to reporters.
Feb. 24: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!” — Trump in a tweet.
On February 25th a top US Health Official warned Americans that this virus would spread in the US.
Feb 25: “Now they have it, they have studied it, they know very much, in fact, we’re very close to a vaccine,” Trump said during a state visit to India
Feb 25: ” CDC and my Administration are doing a Great Job of handling Coronavirus.”
Feb. 26: “So we’re at the low level. As they get better, we take them off the list, so that we’re going to be pretty soon at only five people. And we could be at just one or two people over the next short period of time. So we’ve had very good luck.” — Trump at a White House briefing.
Feb. 26: “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.” — Trump at a press conference.
Feb. 26: “I think every aspect of our society should be prepared. I don’t think it’s going to come to that, especially with the fact that we’re going down, not up. We’re going very substantially down, not up.” — Trump at a press conference, when asked if “U.S. schools should be preparing for a coronavirus spreading.”
Feb. 26: ”We’re going very substantially down, not up. We have it so well under control. I mean, we have really done a very good job.”
Feb. 26: ”This is the flu. This is like the flu. It’s a little like the regular flu that we have flu shots for. And we’ll essentially have a flu shot for this in a very quick manner.”
Feb. 27: “It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.” — Trump at a White House meeting with African American leaders
Feb. 28: ”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.”
The first CV death (a man in his 50s)in the US was on February 29th.
Feb. 29: “And I’ve gotten to know these professionals. They’re incredible. And everything is under control. I mean, they’re very, very cool. They’ve done it, and they’ve done it well. Everything is really under control.” — Trump in a speech at the CPAC conference outside Washington, D.C.
March 2: "You know, three, four weeks ago, I said, 'Well, how many people die a year from the flu?' And, in this country, I think last year was 36- or 37,000 people. And I'm saying, 'Wow, nobody knew that information.'" -- exchange with reporters at coronavirus meeting with pharmaceutical companies
March 2:"So when you lose 27,000 people a year, nobody knew that. I didn't know that." -- campaign rally in Charlotte, North Carolina
March 2: ”There will be a vaccine relatively soon.” -- campaign rally in Charlotte N. Carolina
March 2: ”You take a solid flu vaccine, you don’t think that it could have an impact, or much of an impact on Corona?”
March 2: ”A lot of things are happening, a lot of very exciting things are happening and they’re happening very rapidly.”
March 4: “[W]e have a very small number of people in this country [infected]. We have a big country. The biggest impact we had was when we took the 40-plus people [from a cruise ship]. … We brought them back. We immediately quarantined them. But you add that to the numbers. But if you don’t add that to the numbers, we’re talking about very small numbers in the United States.” — Trump at a White House meeting with airline CEOs.
March 4: “Well, I think the 3.4% is really a false number.” — Trump in an interview on Fox News, referring to the percentage of diagnosed COVID-19 patients worldwide who had died, as reported by the World Health Organization.
March 4: ”If we have thousands of hundreds of 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.”
March 5: ”I NEVER said people that are feeling sick should go to work.”
March 5: “Only 129 cases,” he wrote on Twitter.
March 5: ”The United States has, as of now, only 129 cases, and 11 deaths. We are working very hard to keep these numbers as low as possible.”
March 6: "Anybody that wants a test can get a test. That's what the bottom line is." In response to a question about the lack of testing kits.
March 6: "...I hear the numbers are getting much better in Italy." -- exchange with reporters after tour of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
March 6: ”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. Right? This was not as perfect as that but pretty good.”
March 6: ” 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.”
March 6: "We have very low numbers compared to major countries throughout the world. Our numbers are lower than just about anybody." -- exchange with reporters at signing of coronavirus appropriations bill
March 7: “No, I’m not concerned at all. No, we’ve done a great job with it.” — Trump, when asked by reporters if he was concerned about the arrival of the coronavirus in the Washington, D.C., area.
March 8: ”No, I’m not concerned at all. No, I’m not. No, we’ve done a great job.”
March 8: ”We have a perfectly coordinated and fine-tuned plan at the White House for our attack on coronavirus.”
March 9: ”This blindsided the world.”
March 9: “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 in a tweet.
March 10: “And we’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.” — Trump after meeting with Republican senators.
A day later, on March 11, the WHO declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
March 11: "...but we're having to fix a problem that, four weeks ago, nobody ever thought would be a problem." -- March 11 exchange with reporters at coronavirus meeting with bankers
March 13: ”I am officially declaring a national emergency.”
March 13: ”I don’t take any responsibility at all.”
March 15: "This is a very contagious -- this is a very contagious virus. It's incredible. But it's something that we have tremendous control of." -- coronavirus press conference
March 17: ” “I’ve always known this is a real – this is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic. I’ve always viewed it as very serious.” – press briefing at White House
March 18: “nobody would ever believe a thing like that’s possible” and that it “snuck up on us.”
March 27: ”I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators.You know, you’re going to major hospitals sometimes, they’ll have two ventilators. And now, all of a sudden, they’re saying, can we order 30,000 ventilators?”
March 27: ”You call it a germ. You can call it a flu. You can call it a virus. I’m not sure anybody knows what it is.”
March 30: ”How do you go from 10 to 20 to 300,000? 10 to 20,000 masks to 300,000? Even though this is different, something's going on and you ought to look into it as reporters. Where are the masks going? Are they going out the back door? How do you go from 10,000 to 300,000 - and we had that in a lot of different places.”