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Monday, May 25, 2020

‘Have it totally under control’: How Trump’s response to Covid-19 has evolved

His own remarks have shifted from being dismissive at first, to defensive, then combative (in his comments to reporters), and finally, when cases and deaths rose sharply, pinning the blame on China for not stopping it at the source. 

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: May 13, 2020 2:10:10 pm
US President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus during a press briefing in the Rose Garden of the White House, Monday, May 11, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

US President Donald Trump’s response to the containment of novel coronavirus till now has been to show the world that the country is in control of the pandemic even when the situation, economy and public health, seems to be slipping out of his hands. “The country is prepared for any circumstance, we hope it’s not going to be a major circumstance, but a smaller circumstance. But whatever the circumstance, we are prepared,” Trump said at one of his press briefings. As of today, the US has recorded nearly 82,387 deaths with over 360,000 positive cases, according to data by the Johns Hopkins University.

His own remarks, right from when the first case was detected in January 22 till now, have shifted from being dismissive at first, to defensive, then combative (in his comments to reporters), in parts conciliatory, and finally, when cases and deaths rose sharply, pinning the blame on China for not stopping it at the source.

All this while, Trump has repeatedly harped on the fact that the US is conducting the most number of tests to justify the rising death toll and positive cases, and constantly glorified the resilience of the US economy to piece together a narrative ahead of the presidential elections due in November this year.

His interactions with the press over the last few months have mostly been volatile and intemperate, given that the media has been crticial of his handling of the pandemic and the resultant job losses as a fallout. In a very recent face-off with China-born White House reporter for CBS News Weijia Jiang, Trump said “Go ask China” when asked why he views coronavirus testing as a global competition given that more than 80,000 US citizens have lost their lives to the pandemic ever since its outbreak.

We have tracked Trump’s response to coronavirus since the first case was detected in January this year 

January 22: US records its first case

Comment: “No, not at all. We have it totally under control. It’s one person, coming in from China.”

January 30: Cases rise to 5 

Comment: “We only have five people, hopefully everything is going to be great. They have somewhat of a problem but hopefully it’s all going to be great. But we’re working with china, just so you know, and other countries very, very closely so it doesn’t get out of hand, but it’s you know, its something we have to be very careful with, right.”

February 10: Cases rise to 11

Comment: “The virus, they are working hard, looks like by April you know when theory, when it gets a little warmer it miraculously goes away, hope that’s true, but we are doing great in our country.

Trump rules out reopening negotiations on trade deal with China Under the US-China trade deal signed in January, Beijing agreed to buy at least USD 200 billion more in US products and services in 2020-2021. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

February 14: Cases – 13 

Comment: “When you have a very small number of people in the country right now, around 12. Many of them are getting better, some are fully recovered already, so we are in a very good shape.”

February 25: 51 cases

Comment: “We have a very few people with it. The people are getting better.”

February 26: 57 cases

At a White house press briefing, Vice-President Mike Pence was put in charge of Covid-19 task force

coronavirus, trump coronavirus, trump mike pence coronavirus, US white house coronavirus, US coronavirus Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. President Donald Trump. (Reuters)

Comment: “Because of all we have done, the risk to American people remains very low. And we have the greatest experts in the world. we have had tremendous success beyond what people would have thought.”

February 28: 60 cases

Comment: “35000 people on average die every year day due to flu. Did anyone know that? 35,000, that’s a lot of people. It could go to a 100,000, could be a 27,000, they say a usually a minimum of 27 cause up to a 100,000 people die in a year. So far, we have lost nobody to coronavirus in US. Nobody. And it doesn’t mean we have won. We are totally prepared.”

February 29: 68 cases

Comment: “The country is prepared for any circumstance, we hope it’s not going to be a major circumstance, but a smaller circumstance. But whatever the circumstance, we are prepared.”

Read | Trump reaches out to world leaders on coronavirus, global economy

March 5: Cases 217, deaths 12

Comment: “You can’t be a politician and not shake hands. people come and…when I leave and shake hands with people., they want to shake your hands, they want to say hello, they want to hug you and kiss you, I don’t care, you have to do that.”

March 6: Cases 262, deaths 14

Comment: “I think we are doing a great job in this country by keeping it down, we really been very vigilant and we have done tremendous job to keep it down.”

March 11: Cases 1,281, deaths 36

Comment: “This is the most aggressive and the most comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history.”

March 12: Cases 2,179, deaths 49

Comment: “Anyone can be a carrier for the virus and risk transmission to older Americans and those with underlying health conditions and those who are most at risk they have not done very well.”

March 16: Cases 4,632, deaths 99

Comment: “We are announcing new guidelines for Americans to follow over the next 15 days as we combat the virus.”

March 17: Cases 6,421, deaths 133

Comment: “This is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic. All you had to do is look at other countries. One day we will be standing, possibly up here, and say “well, we won”. And we are going to say that.”

March 20: Cases 19,273, 349 deaths

Reporter to Trump: “What do you say to Americans who are watching you right now who are scared?”

Comment: “I say that you’re a terrible reporter. The American people are looking for answers and hope.”

Also Read | ‘Absolute chaotic disaster’: Obama lashes out at Trump over Covid-19 pandemic

March 23: Cases 43,843, 786 deaths

Comment: “America will again and soon be open for business, We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself.”

March 24: Cases 53,736, 1,008 deaths

Comment: Ultimately, the goal is to ease the guidelines and open things up to a larger section of our country as we near the end of our historic battle with the invisible enemy. I hope we can do this by Easter.”

March 29; Cases 140,909, 3,420 deaths

Comment: “We will be extending our guidelines to April 30 to slow the spread. When you hear that 2.2 million people could have died if we didn’t go through all of this, and now the number will be, you know, a much lower number.”

March 31: Cases 188,172, 6,501 deaths

Comment: “This is could be a hell of a bad two weeks. This is going to be a very bad two or maybe even three weeks, this is going to be three weeks like we haven’t seen before.”

April 4: Cases 308,650, 10,855 deaths

Comment: “We have a thing called the Constitution, which I cherish, number one. Number two, those Governors, I know are doing a great job.”

April 5: Cases 336,802, 12,375 deaths

Comment: “We are started to see light at the end of the tunnel. Can never be happy when so many people are dying but we are going to very proud of the job we did to keep the death down to an absolute minimum. The least it could have happened.”

April 8: Cases 428,654, 18,270 deaths

Comment: “Soon we will be over that curve, we will be over that top, we will be headed in the right direction. I feel strongly about that.”

April 13: Cases 580,619, 27,870 deaths

Comment: “The President of the US calls the shots, if we weren’t here for the states you would have had a problem in the country like you’ve never seen before. we were here to back them up.”

Reporter to Trump: “Has any Governor agreed you have the authority to decide when their state needs backup?”

Comment: “I haven’t asked anybody, because you know why, I don’t have to.”

April 16: Cases 667,592, 34,827 deaths

Comments: “My administration is issuing new federal guidelines that will allow governors to take a phased and deliberate approach to reopening their individual states. We took the greatest economy in the history of the world and we closed it in order to win this war and we are in the process of winning it now.”

April 19: Cases 758, 809, 40,945 deaths

Comment: “We would have had millions of deaths. Instead of… it looks like we will be at about 60,000 more which means 40,000 less than the lowest number thought of.”

April 22: Cases 840,351, 47412 deaths

Comment: Its a beautiful thing to see the restrictions are lifted, we must maintain vigilance and continue practising social distancing.”

April 28: Cases 1012,582, 58,355 deaths

Comment: “I think what happens is it’s going to go away and this is going to go away, whether it comes back in a modified form for all we will be able to handle it, we are very prepared to handle it.”

May 1: Cases 110,3561, 64,943 deaths

Comment: “People were thinking in terms of 1.5 million lives to 2.2 million without the mitigation. And hopefully, we are going to come in below the 100,000 lives lost, which is a horrible number, nevertheless, it’s a horrible thing, it could have been stopped.”

Explained: Can the US sue China for coronavirus-related damages?

May 6: Cases 1,22,9331, 73,445 deaths

Comment: “This is the worst attack we have ever had, this is worse that Pearl Harbour attack, worse than the World Trade Center, there has never been an attack like this. It could have been stopped at the source it could have been stopped in China.”

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