Sept. 9, 2020 — President Donald Trump knew in early February, earlier than the primary identified U.S. loss of life from COVID-19, that the new coronavirus could possibly be transmitted by way of the air and was deadlier than the seasonal flu.
“You simply breathe the air and that’s the way it’s handed,” he stated in a Feb. 7 name with journalist Bob Woodward. “And in order that’s a really difficult one. That’s a really delicate one. It’s additionally extra lethal than even your strenuous flus.”
“That is lethal stuff,” he stated.
On the time, Trump was telling People that the U.S. was in little hazard and that the outbreak would quickly go away by itself.
Requested about these statements in March, Trump stated he needed to downplay the risk. “I needed to at all times play it down,” Trump informed Woodward. “I nonetheless like taking part in it down, as a result of I do not need to create a panic.”
In the identical interview, he went on to acknowledge the gravity of the risk going through even younger adults. “Simply as we speak and yesterday, some startling information got here out. It isn’t simply previous, older. Younger individuals too, loads of younger individuals,” Trump stated.
These admissions by the president are a part of collection of 18 taped, on-the-record interviews with Woodward, who rose to fame for his function in exposing the Watergate scandal. Parts of these tapes aired as we speak on CNN and on the website of The Washington Post. Along with the tapes, the information shops additionally obtained advance copies of Woodward’s new e book in regards to the president, Rage, which is able to hit retailer cabinets subsequent week.
In a CNN report on the interview, Woodward says he anticipated the president to speak about impeachment, since he had simply been acquitted by the Senate. Woodward says he was stunned when Trump’s focus was on the virus.
The U.S. bears the grim distinction of main the world in COVID-19 circumstances and deaths. To this point, the coronavirus has contaminated 6.3 million People and killed greater than 190,000. In comparison with different rich nations, the U.S. has fared poorly, struggling to give you methods to comprise the virus.
The economic system crashed within the wake of the nationwide response, leaving greater than 14 million People without jobs and pushing the unemployment charge to a excessive of 14%, one of many worst recorded within the trendy period.
In a information convention from the White Home shortly after the tapes have been launched, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany defined that president’s remarks this fashion: “At a time while you’re going through insurmountable challenges, it’s necessary to precise calm.” When pressed by a reporter, she denied that the president had misled People in regards to the risk from the virus. “This president does what leaders do. Good leaders. It’s keep calm and resolute while you face an insurmountable problem.”
In response to fact-checking by The Washington Put up, the president stated that the virus will go away by itself 31 occasions within the first 3 months of the yr.
William Hanage, PhD, an epidemiologist within the Heart for Communicable Illness Dynamics at Harvard’s T.H. Chan College of Public Well being, says the president’s need to not trigger panic is comprehensible and a core tenet of public well being. However he says Trump went about it the fallacious approach.
“It was not stunning that he knew. What’s stunning is that reasonably than prepare and put together individuals for the disaster forward, he tried to disclaim it,” he says.