It wasn't until this week that Trump soberly warned about the need for social distancing.
Donald Trump is trying to rewrite history on his response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, claiming he "always" took the virus seriously despite ample evidence proving otherwise.
"I always treated the Chinese Virus very seriously, and have done a very good job from the beginning, including my very early decision to close the 'borders' from China - against the wishes of almost all," Trump tweeted Wednesday morning, using racist terminology condemned by both the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Many lives were saved. The Fake News new narrative is disgraceful & false!" he went on.
Trump, however, has long downplayed the severity of the coronavirus — even as experts were sounding the alarm about the need to slow the spread so as not to overrun the health care system.
On Jan. 22, when COVID-19 was ravaging China, Trump said he wasn't concerned about the virus becoming a global pandemic, telling CNBC, "We have it totally under control. It's one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It's going to be just fine."
In late February, when the number of cases in the United States were beginning to grow, Trump again said that the virus was going to be totally eradicated in America.
"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 said from the White House briefing room.
That contradicted the predictions of his own experts, who at the time were still warning of a global pandemic and saying that the travel restrictions Trump put in place were not enough now that the virus had reached American soil.
When cases began to grow, Trump changed his strategy of downplaying the virus, comparing it to the flu and saying that the flu actually killed more people annually than COVID-19 would.
"So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu," Trump tweeted on March 9. "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 even held out on canceling speaking before large crowds at indoor events — which experts said should be avoided — waiting until last week to finally announce he won't be holding rallies or speaking before big crowds.
It wasn't until a Monday press conference that Trump soberly warned about the need for people to adopt the radical social distancing measures state and local governments were imposing in order to stop the virus' spread and help avoid an overrun of the American health care system.
"It's important for the young and healthy people to understand that while they may experience milder symptoms, they can easily spread this virus, and they will spread it indeed, putting countless others in harm’s way," Trump said in the White House briefing room. "We especially worry about our senior citizens."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.