Donald Trump was lying about the severity of the coronavirus as far back as early March.
Hours after checking himself out of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday, Donald Trump falsely tweeted that COVID-19 is no big deal and much like the flu. His comments echoed the claims he was making at the beginning of the pandemic when, as he told Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward in an interview, he misled the public on the severity of the virus "in order to reduce panic."
Trump, who announced at the end of last week that he had tested positive for the coronavirus, was hospitalized over the weekend. His administration has repeatedly lied about his condition, with observers noting that he has been given drugs typically reserved for patients experiencing serious symptoms, but his doctor admitted Monday that he is not yet "out of the woods" in his recovery.
Experts have questioned his decision to return to the White House and to remove his mask on his return.
Trump's return to playing down the severity of COVID-19 included a tweet on Tuesday morning: "Flu season is coming up! Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu. Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!"
This is not the first time Trump has dismissed the threat of the virus by comparing it to the flu. In early March, he tweeted, "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!"
Later that month, 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 coronavirus.
"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 on Fox News. "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."
By April, the COVID-19 death toll in the United States had already passed 37,000.
In an interview with Woodward in February, Trump flat-out admitted that he was intentionally downplaying the threat of the virus because he did not want people to worry.
"I love our country and I don't want people to be frightened, I don't want to create panic," Trump said. "We don't want to instill panic, we don't want to jump up and down and start shouting that we have a problem that is a tremendous problem, scare everybody." He told Woodward that he already knew the virus was "more deadly" than the flu, but explained that he "wanted to always play it down."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that between 12,000 and 61,000 Americans die each year from the flu. Many of those are people who do not get vaccinated.
More than 210,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus already this year. Those who survive infection with the virus face possible long-term symptoms and organ damage.
On Monday, Trump tweeted: "Don't be afraid of Covid. Don't let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!"
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.