Trump Says He Knew Coronavirus Was A Pandemic ‘Before It Was Called A Pandemic’ — Here’s Why That’s Bunk
President Donald Trump on Tuesday, speaking to reporters from the White House, made one of his most audacious claims so far about the government’s attempts to quell the spread of coronavirus:
Reacting to questions about how his tone on the subject has changed in recent days, Trump responded, “I’ve always viewed it as very serious.”
“There was no difference yesterday from days before. I feel the tone is similar,” he added.
Then, Trump said the biggest whopper of them all:
“I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”
What Trump doesn’t realize — or perhaps, fails to care about — is that the American people aren’t dumb. They saved the receipts. They know what he’s said.
Trump, who not a month ago characterized Democratic criticism of the coronavirus response as a "hoax," now claims, "I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic." pic.twitter.com/6GTpZ59b75
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 17, 2020
There are two reasons why Trump’s comments on Tuesday aren’t believable.
First: he’s said, for a long period of time, up until last week, that there has been nothing to worry about, in terms of the spread of COVID-19. Here’s a short list of what he’s had to say over the past couple of months:
- On January 31, he claimed his administration had “pretty much shut it down” when he closed off travel from China.
- Trump claimed on February 10, when more cases started developing, that it wasn’t anything to worry about because, “by April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away.”
- He insisted that numbers would go down. “I think the numbers are going to get progressively better as we go along,” he said February 19.
- By late February, he was getting angry at institutions for discussing coronavirus, arguing it was a topic people were using to make him look bad. He lashed out at media for “panicking markets,” and called it the Democratic Party’s “new hoax” for attacking him.
- On February 26, describing the number of cases in the U.S. (which were dozens at the time), Trump said, “We’re going down, not up. We’re going very substantially down, not up.”
- On March 4, he called the disease “very mild,” and around that time began comparing it to the flu.
But there’s a second reason for why Trump’s claims of having called it a “pandemic” before it was called one are inaccurate: besides being a lie, it’s also impossible. A pandemic is declared when it becomes a worldwide phenomenon, not when it becomes a certain level of dangerous.
Trump uses the word, however, in the second sense, not the first. A pandemic is a threshold that is met — calling coronavirus a “pandemic” before that threshold was reached would have been errant, wrong, inaccurate.
The president is trying to spin things here, in order to look more like a leader. Unfortunately for him, he’s already done too much damage to his image on that front, before and during the coronavirus saga.
Featured image credit: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia