Trump claimed previously that the flu was deadlier than COVID-19, which has now claimed 37,202 lives.
At least 37,202 Americans have now died from COVID-19, according to the CDC. This number is larger than the 37,000 flu deaths from last year that Donald Trump used to minimize the threat from the pandemic just weeks ago.
The first American death from the disease was reported on February 29. Seven weeks later, the death toll has increased by thousands.
But in early March, Donald Trump repeatedly urged Americans not to worry about the coronavirus because it was far less dangerous than seasonal influenza.
"So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year," he tweeted on March 9. "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!"
Two weeks later, he complained about social distancing and the experts who had urged him to tell Americans to stay at home to curb the spread of the virus.
"I brought some numbers here, we lose thousands and thousands of people a year to the flu. We don't turn the country off, I mean every year. Now when I heard the number, we average 37,000 people a year. Can you believe that?" he said at a Fox News town hall. "We never turn the country off. We lose much more than that to automobile accidents. We didn't call up the automobile companies, say, 'Stop making cars. We don't want any cars anymore.' We have to get back to work."
Trump has repeatedly downplayed the crisis in other ways as well.
In January, he bragged, "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."
Days later, he predicted — without evidence — that the problem would go away on its own when spring came: "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."
On March 15, he falsely claimed at a press conference, "This is a very contagious virus, it's incredible, but it's something that we have tremendous control over. I think very important the young people, people of good health and groups of people just are not strongly affected." Hundreds of Americans under age 45 have now died, including some children.
"The USA was never set up for this, just look at the catastrophe of the H1N1 Swine Flu (Biden in charge, 17,000 people lost, very late response time), but it soon will be. Great decision to close our China, and other, borders early. Saved many lives!" he tweeted on March 15.
Far more Americans have now died from COVID-19 than from H1N1.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.