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Trump Called Obama’s Handling Of H1N1 A ‘Debacle’ — But Already, More Have Died Of Coronavirus Than Swine Flu

In recent and in past comments, President Donald Trump has tried to downplay coronavirus by playing up the purportedly poor response of his predecessor to a different pandemic — yet statistics show that less died under President Barack Obama with swine flu than have already died of COVID-19 under the current administration’s watch.

The White House/Flickr

Any comparison between the two events is an apples-to-oranges look at things. The two diseases are not the same, so one president’s response isn’t necessarily going to be “better” or “worse” than the other’s is to a separate illness. It’s akin to comparing a baseball player’s career to a football player’s.

But it was Trump who has brought up the comparison, so it necessitates contextual analysis.

Trump called Obama’s response to H1N1 just this month a “debacle,” though he falsely inflated the total who died of the disease in the United States while doing so (Trump continually claims 17,000 died, when, according to CDC figures, less than 12,500 died of swine flu). The current president has also falsely stated and disseminated the idea that Obama waited for six months to declare a national emergency on the pandemic his administration faced.

In fact, Obama did declare a national emergency at the six-month mark of H1N1 being in the U.S. It was his administration’s second national emergency declaration, however, as he also declared a national emergency at the onset.

Estimates for how many would die from swine flu in America ranged from about 30,000 to 90,000 at the time. While every death that happened is tragic, with only 12,500 perishing, the number who died under Obama’s watch was proportionally much better than what experts had expected.

As of Thursday morning, 14,808 individuals in the United States have died of coronavirus. While statistically comparable to what happened with swine flu, the current pandemic is ongoing, and it’s predicted that many more deaths, unfortunately, will come about in the next few weeks.

Again, comparisons between two diseases that have affected or are presently ravaging the nation are not always appropriate to make. But if Trump considers H1N1 to be a “debacle” or otherwise implies it a failed response, what should we make of his coronavirus response?

Already, Americans have decided his initial response to the crisis has been dismal. By the current president’s own standards, it has been poor, and that’s using a descriptor that is relatively tame. In fact, most Americans, by a wide margin, would prefer Obama handled this pandemic instead of Trump.



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