Health Letter, April 2020
By Michael Carome, M.D.
If you’re not outraged,
you’re not paying attention!
Read what Public Citizen has to say about the biggest blunders and outrageous offenses in the world of public health, published monthly in Health Letter.
Since the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump has spewed an endless stream of misleading, overly optimistic, self-congratulatory and often incoherent statements about the disease and his administration’s response to it.
By downplaying for many weeks the danger posed by COVID-19, suggesting that highly effective drug treatments soon may be available, and making claims that directly conflict with information provided by the federal government’s leading public health experts, Trump has sowed false hope and confusion among the public and promoted an inept and insufficient national response to the outbreak.
Among the many troubling public statements and ignorant musings that have erupted from Trump’s mouth as the pandemic has evolved are the following:
January 22 (314 confirmed cases globally according to the World Health Organization; 1 case in U.S.): “No, [we’re not worried about a pandemic] at all and we have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China.”
January 30 (7,818 cases globally and 170 deaths; 5 cases in the U.S.): “We only have 5 people [with coronavirus in the U.S]. Hopefully everything’s going to be great. They have somewhat of a problem, but hopefully it’s all gonna be great.”
February 10 (40,554 cases and 910 deaths globally; 12 cases in the U.S.): “The virus — they’re working hard. Looks like by April, you know, in theory when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away. Hope that’s true, but we’re doing great in our country.”
February 25 (80,239 cases and 2,700 deaths globally; 53 cases in the U.S.): “The coronavirus, which is, uh, very well under control in our country. We have very few people with it… The people are getting better.”
February 26 (81,109 cases and 2,762 deaths globally; 53 cases in the U.S): “Because of all we’ve done, the risk to the American people remains very low… We’ve had tremendous success, tremendous success, beyond what people would have thought.”
February 28 (83,652 cases and 2,858 deaths globally; 59 cases in the U.S.): “Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus… And so far we have lost nobody to coronavirus in the United States — nobody… And it doesn’t mean we won’t, and we are totally prepared.”
February 29 (85,403 cases and 2,924 deaths globally; 62 cases in the U.S.): “Our country is prepared for any circumstance. We hope it’s not going to be a major circumstance, it will be a smaller circumstance, but whatever the circumstances, we’re prepared.”
March 6 (98,192 cases and 3,380 deaths globally; 233 cases and 10 deaths in the U.S.): “I think we’re doing a really good job in this country at keeping [the coronavirus outbreak] down. We’ve really been very vigilant, and we’ve done a tremendous job at keeping it down.”
March 11 (118,319 cases and 4,292 deaths globally; 938 cases and 29 deaths in the U.S.): “This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history.”
March 16 (167,515 cases and 6,606 deaths globally; 3,813 cases and 69 deaths in the U.S.): “I’d rate [my administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic] a 10. I think we’ve done a great job.”
March 17 (179,111 cases and 7,426 deaths globally; 5,204 cases and 92 deaths in the U.S): “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’ll be standing, possibly up here, we’ll say, well, we won, and we’re going to say that.”
March 19 (209,839 cases and 8,778 deaths globally; 9,415 cases and 150 deaths in the U.S.): “First of all, governors are supposed to be doing a lot of this work and they are doing a lot of this work. The federal government is not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items and then shipping. We’re not a shipping clerk. The governors are supposed to be, as with testing, the governors are supposed to be doing it.”
March 24 (372,757 cases and 16,231 deaths globally; 46,485 cases and 591 deaths in the U.S.): “Ultimately, the goal is to ease the guidelines and open things up to very large sections of our country as we near the end of our historic battle with the invisible enemy… I said earlier today that I hope we can do this by Easter… And what a great timeline this would be. Easter, as our timeline — what a great timeline that would be… There’s tremendous hope as we look forward and we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
The above statements from Trump — and many others — demonstrate that he is wholly unfit to lead the federal government’s response to the coronavirus epidemic and poses a clear and present danger to the American public. His suggestion that by Easter his administration may roll back guidelines on social distancing that are intended to stem the spread of the coronavirus epidemic is particularly dangerous.
To save American lives, Trump must cease his reality show approach to the coronavirus crisis and cede the podium to qualified public health experts so that they can take the lead in our government’s response to the pandemic.