WASHINGTON - U.S. President Donald Trump contended Wednesday that he “always treated” the global coronavirus pandemic “very seriously,” but his public statements until recent days contradict his claim.
Trump, on Twitter, said he has “done a very good job from the beginning, including my very early decision to close the ‘borders’ from China - against the wishes of almost all. Many lives were saved. The Fake News new narrative is disgraceful & false!”
In January, Trump declared, “We have it totally under control. This is one person coming in from China. We have it totally under control. It’s going to be just fine.”
Days after Trump minimized the threat, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control announced the first U.S. coronavirus case while the World Health Organization said the coronavirus posed what it described as a public health emergency that was a worldwide threat.
Trump, however, said in February, “We’ve pretty much shut it down coming in from China.”
He told a political rally -- an event now abandoned in the U.S. to keep large crowds from assembling and possibly spreading infections, that with April’s warmer weather, it “miraculously goes away.”
Trump also said, “We’re very close to a vaccine,” only to be contradicted by U.S. health officials who say that at best such a treatment is many months away.
He claimed, as the number of U.S. coronavirus cases grew daily, “We’re going down, not up.”
“We’ have done an incredible job,” Trump declared. “One day it’s like a miracle, it’s going to disappear.”
As the number of coronavirus cases grew in the U.S., Trump blamed his political foes, saying it was something akin to his impeachment and later acquittal in a Senate trial.
“This is their new hoax.” he said.
He tweeted in late February, “Low Ratings Fake News MSDNC (Comcast) & @CNN are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus [sic] look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible. Likewise their incompetent Do Nothing Democrat comrades are all talk, no action. USA in great shape!”
Two weeks ago, Trump downplayed the mortality rate from the coronavirus, tweeting that 37,000 Americans died from the flu last year.
“Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on,” he said. “At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus with 22 deaths. Think about that!”
But health officials said that eventually the mortality rate for the coronavirus could dwarf that for the common flu.
By last Sunday, Trump said, “It’s something we have tremendous control over.”
But his public comments since then have markedly changed. He has called for a massive spending measure -- $800 billion or more – to help bail out businesses shut down or significantly impacted by the spread of the coronavirus and to send $1,000 to $2,000 checks to most adult Americans to help them cope with the economic impact.
Days ago he said the coronavirus would “go away” if Americans “just stay calm.” Now Trump is saying the pandemic is “not under control.”
Five days ago he declared a national emergency to unlock new funding to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
He acknowledged that the U.S., with the world’s largest economy, could fall into a recession because of the coronavirus. Its stock indexes have been volatile, but mostly plunging, again on Wednesday.
The latest U.S. figures show more than 5,800 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 115 deaths.