Coronavirus: Trump denies downplaying severity of virus


US President Donald Trump at ABC News' town hall event in Philadelphia. Photo: 15 September 2020Picture copyright

Picture caption

In an interview, President Trump mentioned he minimised the virus’s severity to keep away from panic

US President Donald Trump has denied downplaying the seriousness of Covid-19, regardless of admitting in a recorded interview to having finished that.

At a televised occasion with voters, Mr Trump mentioned he had “up-played” it.

The declare contradicts feedback Mr Trump made to journalist Bob Woodward earlier this yr, when he mentioned he minimised the virus’s severity to keep away from panic.

Mr Trump additionally repeated on Tuesday {that a} vaccine could possibly be prepared “inside weeks” regardless of scepticism from well being specialists.

No vaccine has but accomplished medical trials, main some scientists to worry politics relatively than well being and security is driving the push for a vaccine earlier than the three November presidential elections.

  • Trump intentionally performed down virus, Woodward guide says
  • Coronavirus: The week when all the pieces modified for Trump

Greater than 195,000 folks have died with Covid-19 within the US for the reason that starting of the pandemic, in accordance with information collated by Johns Hopkins college.

In the meantime, the journal Scientific American on Tuesday endorsed a presidential candidate for the primary time in its 175-year historical past, backing Democrat Joe Biden for the White Home.

The journal mentioned Mr Trump “rejects proof and science” and described his response to the coronavirus pandemic as “dishonest and inept”.

What did Trump say?

At Tuesday’s city corridor assembly held by ABC Information in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Mr Trump was requested why he would “downplay a pandemic that’s identified to disproportionately hurt low-income households and minority communities”.

Mr Trump responded: “Yeah, effectively, I did not downplay it. I really, in some ways, I up-played it, when it comes to motion.”

“My motion was very sturdy,” he mentioned, citing a ban imposed on folks travelling from China and Europe earlier this yr.

“We’d have misplaced hundreds of extra folks had I not put the ban on. We saved plenty of lives after we did that,” Mr Trump mentioned.

The US ban on international travellers who have been lately in China got here into power in early February, whereas a ban on travellers from European nations was launched the next month.

However Mr Trump has been accused of being sluggish implementing measures to curtail the virus.

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Media captionThe misplaced six weeks when the US failed to manage the virus

In its assertion on Tuesday, Scientific American mentioned regardless of warnings in January and February, Mr Trump “didn’t develop a nationwide technique to supply protecting gear, coronavirus testing or clear well being pointers.”

What did he inform Woodward?

Woodward, who broke the Watergate scandal in 1972 and is likely one of the US’s most revered journalists, interviewed Mr Trump 18 instances from December to July.

In February, Mr Trump indicated in an interview with Woodward that he knew extra concerning the severity of the sickness than he had mentioned publicly.

In keeping with a recording of the decision, the president mentioned coronavirus was deadlier than the flu.

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Media captionHow Trump’s perspective towards coronavirus shifted between March and April

“It goes by means of the air,” Mr Trump is heard saying on the tape. “That is at all times harder than the contact. You do not have to the touch issues. Proper? However the air, you simply breathe the air and that is the way it’s handed.

“And in order that’s a really difficult one. That is a really delicate one.”

Later that month, Mr Trump mentioned that the virus was “very a lot beneath management”, and that the case depend would quickly be near zero. He additionally publicly implied the flu was extra harmful than Covid-19.

Talking on Capitol Hill on 10 March, Mr Trump mentioned: “Simply keep calm. It’ll go away.”

9 days later, after the White Home declared the pandemic a nationwide emergency, the president instructed Woodward: “I wished to at all times play it down. I nonetheless like taking part in it down, as a result of I do not wish to create a panic.”

Throughout the assembly, a gaggle of unusual folks got an opportunity to pose questions on to the president. It was an uncommon occasion for Donald Trump, who has lengthy most well-liked talking at campaign-style rallies.

One of many individuals – Ellesia Blaque, an assistant professor who suffers from an inflammatory illness – requested concerning the president’s healthcare plan and if it might assist folks with preexisting circumstances.

When Mr Trump interrupted her, she requested him to let her proceed and he fell silent. It was a uncommon second for the president. He sometimes surrounds himself by supporters and when reporters ask powerful questions, he assaults them.

However he couldn’t accuse Ms Blaque of getting an agenda. She and others on the city corridor occasion demanded solutions in a method that few folks have been in a position to. He assured her these with preexisting circumstances could be protected beneath his plan however didn’t supply specifics.

It was the form of real-time change that he has tried to keep away from, and the way she and others within the viewers – and throughout the US – really feel about his responses may assist decide the end result of the election.

What else did Trump say in Philadelphia?

Mr Trump, who’s looking for re-election, repeated his earlier declare that the virus would disappear by itself as a result of folks would “develop… herd mentality”, probably referring to “herd immunity” when sufficient folks have developed resistance to a illness to cease its transmission.

He additionally once more forged doubt on the scientific recommendation of his personal administration on mask-wearing.

“The idea of a masks is nice, however… you are consistently touching it. You are touching your face. You are touching plates. There are folks that do not suppose masks are good,” he mentioned.

The US Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention strongly urges using face masks.

Mr Trump has made contradictory feedback on face masks, on the one hand disparaging them as unsanitary, and on the opposite calling on People to “present patriotism” by sporting them.

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Media caption“I am upset in myself” – why Tammy and Jim remorse voting for Trump in 2016

The Q&A gathering with undecided voters on Tuesday got here because the presidential election battle entered its remaining stretches.

Mr Trump’s Democratic rival Joe Biden is predicted to sit down for the same programme in Pennsylvania that may air on Thursday.

Pennsylvania is seen as a key battleground state within the race to the White Home.


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