Updated: October 2, 2020 11:13:26 pm
With weeks to go before the US presidential election, President Donald Trump announced Friday that he and First Lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The diagnosis comes as a major blow for the President, who has been widely criticised for underplaying the threat posed by the virus and refusing to follow crucial public health guidelines — including wearing masks. (Follow US Election LIVE UPDATES here)
As the US continues to report the highest Covid-19 caseload and death toll in the world, the Trump administration has come under fire for its handling of the outbreak in the country.
Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2020
From suggesting that disinfectants and UV light could cure the virus to claiming that it would go away without vaccines, President Trump has faced a flurry of backlash and ridicule for his comments about the pandemic since its onset in the United States.
Here is a list of Trump’s top claims about the coronavirus over the months
— After the US recorded its first case on January 22, Trump claimed that the situation was under control. “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,” he told CNBC.
— On January 24, Trump shared his first tweet about the pandemic. He praised China for working hard to contain the spread of the virus.
“China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi,” Trump’s tweet read.
China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 24, 2020
— During a meeting with governors at the White House in February, Trump suggested that the virus would weaken “when we get into April, in the warmer weather — that has a very negative effect on that, and that type of a virus.”
— “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear,” he said at the White House on February 27.
— During a meeting with airline executives on March 4, Trump said that it was still “very safe to fly” in “large portions of the world”.
“Yeah, I think where these people are flying, it’s safe to fly. And large portions of the world are very safe to fly. So we don’t want to say anything other than that. And we have closed down certain sections of the world, frankly, and they’ve sort of automatically closed them also. They’ll understand that and they understand it better, perhaps, than anybody. Yes, it’s safe,” he said.
— “Anybody that wants a test can get a test…the tests are all perfect,” he said at the US’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in March.
— That same month, Trump compared the number of deaths caused by the coronavirus and the common flu. “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,” 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 9, 2020
— During a press briefing on March 27, Trump remarked, “You can call it a germ, you can call it a flu, you can call it a virus. You know, you can call it many different names. I’m not sure anybody even knows what it is.”
— Defending his habit of calling coronavirus the “Chinese virus”, Trump said, “It’s not racist at all. No, not at all. It comes from China. That’s why. It comes from China. I want to be accurate.”
— In April, Trump said that while his administration recommended wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of the infection, he did not intend to don one himself. “This is voluntary. I don’t think I’m going to be doing it,” he famously declared.
— Perhaps Trump’s most controversial remark about the pandemic till date has been when he floated the use of disinfectant or UV lights to treat the virus.
“I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute, and is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it’d be interesting to check that,” he said during a press briefing.
— In July, Trump said that he was against issuing a national mandate requiring all Americans to wear a face mask, adding that people should have a “certain freedom. “I want people to have a certain freedom and I don’t believe in that, no… I don’t agree with the statement that if everyone wore a mask, everything disappears,” he told Fox News.
— In an entirely uncorroborated claim, Trump suggested that 99 per cent of all Covid-19 cases in the United States were “totally harmless”.
“Now we have tested almost 40 million people, 99% of which are totally harmless,” Trump said, just as the country’s total tally of cases crossed 30,00,000.
— In a since-deleted video shared on Facebook, Trump falsely claimed that children are “virtually immune” to the virus. The video was taken down by the social networking site as it violated its policy against spreading misinformation about the coronavirus.
— In September, President Trump predicted a sharp economic recovery in 2021 and said that the US is “rounding the final turn” on the coronavirus pandemic. “We’ve done an incredible job at speeds like nobody has ever seen before,” he said. “This could have taken two or three years. Instead, it’s being done in a very short period of time. We could even have [a vaccine] in the month of October.”
— At the first presidential debate against his Democratic contender Joe Biden, Trump mocked the former US Vice-President for always wearing a face mask. “I don’t wear masks like him. Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from them and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen,” he said.
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