Trump Said It Early and Often: Virus Was Contagious, ‘Serious Public Health Threat’

By Susan Jones | September 10, 2020 | 9:18am EDT
President Donald Trump holds one of his many coronavirus updates at the White House. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
President Donald Trump holds one of his many coronavirus updates at the White House. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - If Americans listened to and/or read what President Trump said about the emerging coronavirus in late January and early February, they knew back then that the virus was contagious, that it had "severe manifestations," and that it was a "serious public health threat," particularly for "older adults and people with underlying health conditions."

Moreover, a look at public statements issued by the World Health Organization in late January also informed the world that "all countries should be prepared for containment, including active surveillance, early detection, isolation and case management, contact tracing and prevention of onward spread of 2019-nCoVinfection."

WHO issued that statement on January 30 -- one day after President Trump announced the formation of the President’s Coronavirus Task Force "to work to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus."

Following yesterday’s release of Trump’s recorded comments to author Bob Woodward, the president's many Democrat/media critics are now literally portraying him as a murderer for allegedly concealing the severity of the emerging coronavirus crisis. ("Donald Trump says he didn't want Americans to panic. No, he just wanted to sit by and watch them die," said MSNBC's Joe Scarborough on this Thursday. See his full screed below)

But a look at the public record tells a different story.

The following is a partial timeline of the many remarks, announcements and proclamations issued by Trump as the coronavirus emerged, as health experts learned more and more about it, and as the economic repercussions of the shutdown took effect.

On January 29 -- nine days before one of his now-infamous interviews with Bob Woodward -- President Trump announced the formation of the President's Coronavirus Task Force, to "monitor, contain, and mitigate the spread of the virus." The announcement said, "The risk of infection for Americans remains low."

The president was saying the same thing that health experts were saying at that time. In fact, two days later, on January 31, CDC Director Robert Redfield told a news conference, "Currently, the risk of the American public is low."

And Dr. Anthony Fauci told the same news conference, "We still have a low risk to the American public, but we want to keep it at a low risk."

On January 31, 2020 -- seven days before the Feb. 7 Woodward interview -- President Trump banned travel from China to the United States in attempt to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The proclamation signed by Trump noted that "Chinese officials now report that sustained human-to-human transmission of the virus is occurring in China. Manifestations of severe disease have included severe pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, septic shock, and multi-organ failure."

The China travel ban proclamation also stated:

Outbreaks of novel viral infections among people are always of public health concern, and older adults and people with underlying health conditions may be at increased risk. Public health experts are still learning about the severity of 2019-nCoV.  An understanding of the key attributes of this novel virus, including its transmission dynamics, incubation period, and severity, is critical to assessing the risk it poses to the American public.  

Nonetheless, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that the virus presents a serious public health threat...Sustained human-to-human transmission has the potential to have cascading public health, economic, national security, and societal consequences.

On that same day, January 31, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared a public health emergency for the United States.

"While this virus poses a serious public health threat, the risk to the American public remains low at this time, and we are working to keep this risk low,” Secretary Azar said. “We are committed to protecting the health and safety of all Americans, and this public health emergency declaration is the latest in the series of steps the Trump Administration has taken to protect our country.”

Azar took the action one day after the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a "Public Health Emergency of International Concern," warning that "further international exportation of cases may appear in any country."

In its January 30 news release, WHO's Emergency Committee stated its belief that "it is still possible to interrupt virus spread, provided that countries put in place strong measures to detect disease early, isolate and treat cases, trace contacts, and promote social distancing measures commensurate with the risk. It is important to note that as the situation continues to evolve, so will the strategic goals and measures to prevent and reduce spread of the infection."

In his February 4 State of the Union Address -- a copy of which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tore up in disgust -- President Trump mentioned the coronavirus, referring to it as an "infectious disease."

"Protecting Americans’ health also means fighting infectious diseases. We are coordinating with the Chinese government and working closely together on the coronavirus outbreak in China.  My administration will take all necessary steps to safeguard our citizens from this threat," Trump said.

In his February 7 interview with Bob Woodward -- one of multiple interviews he granted the author -- Trump said:

It's a very tricky situation. It goes through air, Bob, that's always tougher than the touch. You know, the touch -- you don't have to touch things, right? But the air -- you just breathe the air and that's how it's passed. And so that's a very tricky one. That's a very delicate one. It's also more deadly than your -- you know, even your strenuous flu's.

On March 11, the World Health Organization announced that the coronavirus outbreak qualified as a pandemic.

Two days later, on March 13, President Trump declared a National Coronavirus Emergency in the United States.

His proclamation reads in part:

The spread of COVID-19 within our Nation’s communities threatens to strain our Nation’s healthcare systems. As of March 12, 2020, 1,645 people from 47 States have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. It is incumbent on hospitals and medical facilities throughout the country to assess their preparedness posture and be prepared to surge capacity and capability.

And three days later, on March 16, the White House Coronavirus Task Force announced its "15 days to slow the spread" initiative, effectively beginning an unprecedented economic shutdown in the United States, the effects of which still linger to this day.

A day later, on March 14, Trump proclaimed a National Day of Prayer for all Americans Affected by the Coronavirus Pandemic and for our National Response Efforts.

Then, in a March 19 interview with Bob Woodward, Trump said some "startling facts" had just come out -- that old people weren't the only ones adversely affected by coronavirus -- that "plenty of young people" were sickened as well.

Woodward asked Trump about his "pivot" on the virus -- "to, ‘Oh my God, the gravity is almost inexplicable and unexplainable."

"Well I think, Bob, really, to be honest with you, I wanted to -- I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic."

The comment came at the same time Trump was working to support businesses and Americans crushed by the economic shutdown, trying to balance health concerns with livelihood concerns.

For example, on March 18, one day before his conversation with Woodward, Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, "ensuring that American families and businesses impacted by the virus receive the strong support they need. This legislation provides strong economic assistance to American businesses, workers, and families, alleviating financial burdens experienced by those affected by the virus."

At a March 24 news conference, President Trump discussed his goal 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.  I think that would be a great thing for our country, and we’re all working very hard to make that a reality.  We’ll be meeting with a lot of people to see if it can be done.  Easter is a very special day for many reasons.  For me, for a lot of — a lot of our friends, that’s a very special day.  And what a great timeline this would be.  Easter, as our timeline — what a great timeline that would be.

My first priority is always the health and safety of the American people, and we want everyone to understand that we are continuing to evaluate the data.  We’re working with the task force and making decisions based on what is best for the interests of our fantastic country.

But six days after his hopeful comments, on March 30, President Trump announced that he was extending his administration's "stop the spread" social distancing guidelines through the end of April.

"This is based on modeling that shows the peak in fatalities will not arrive for another two weeks," Trump said. (He was right about that. Death certificates submitted to the CDC's National Center for Health Statics show a peak of 17,047 deaths for the week ending April 18.) 

“The same modeling also shows that, by very vigorously following these guidelines, we could save more than 1 million American lives.  Think of that: 1 million American lives," Trump said.

Our future is in our own hands, and the choices and sacrifices we make will determine the fate of this virus and, really, the fate of our victory.  We will have a great victory.  We have no other choice.  Every one of us has a role to play in winning this war.  Every citizen, family, and business can make the difference in stopping the virus.  This is our shared patriotic duty.

Challenging times are ahead for the next 30 days, and this is a very vital 30 days.  We’re sort of putting it all on the line, this 30 days.  So important because we have to get back.  But the more we dedicate ourselves today, the more quickly we will emerge on the other side of the crisis.  And that’s the time we’re waiting for.  The more we commit ourselves now, the sooner we can win the fight and return to our lives.  And they will be great lives — maybe better than ever.

In response to a reporter who asked about the effects of the economic shutdown, Trump said, "Well, it’s — it’s so bad for the economy, but the economy is number two on my list.  First, I want to save a lot of lives.  We’re going to get the economy back.  I think the economy is going to come back very fast."

This was also the news conference where Trump tangled with CNN's Jim Acosta, who asked, "What do you say to Americans who believe that you got this wrong?"

"And I do want them to stay calm," Trump said.

And we are doing a great job.  If you look at those individual statements, they’re all true.  Stay calm.  It will go away.  You know it — you know it is going away, and it will go away.  And we’re going to have a great victory.

And it’s people like you and CNN that say things like that...The statements I made are: I want to keep the country calm.  I don’t want to panic in the country.  I could cause panic much better than even you. I could do much — I would make you look like a minor league player.  But you know what?  I don’t want to do that.

I want to have our country be calm and strong, and fight and win, and it will go away.  And it is incredible the job that all of these people are doing — putting them all together — the job that they’re doing.

On this Thursday morning, Sept. 10 -- to give you an idea of how the liberal media activists are using Woodward’s interview to campaign against Trump – here are the opening remarks from MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, who has waged a personal vendetta against the president since his election:

So now we know. We know Donald Trump knew the virus was deadly and that it was airborne. And we know he knew millions would get sick and die. He knew it wasn't just older people who would be killed by the virus. He knew early on that this would be the greatest crisis America had faced in decades.

Members of Donald Trump's staff knew in January a plague was coming to infect America. That half a million Americans could die. That millions more would likely lose their job. That the economy would be ravaged and that those staff members -- those staff members had a responsibility to warn him, and they did. But Donald Trump chose instead to lie to you. And to lie to your family. And to lie to over 300 million Americans about the storm that was coming to lay upon this land.

And even as he lied month after month, his staff remained silent. You see, staying in good standing with Donald Trump ended up being more important to them than saving your life. Now, six months into this lie, nearly 200,000 American souls are dead. Countless, countless remain ravaged by the aftermath of this horrific disease. Millions still out of work. And too many working class Americans have had their lives destroyed. While Wall Street traders and Donald Trump and his family get richer by the day.

But Donald Trump says he didn't want Americans to panic. No, he just wanted to sit by and watch them die. Hoping the Dow Jones industrial and the S&P would stay healthy enough to get him re-elected. But Americans got sicker by the day. You watched your parents die. Some of you that watched this show had to bury your moms. I know, you told me about it -- how horrible it was to be there in the hospital but not being able to be with your mom holding her hand while she passed on. Your fathers died. I've heard those sad, heartbreaking stories, too. Your husbands, your wives, and yes, your children. They died as well.

And while that was happening, we listened to a man who swore an oath to protect you, to protect your family, to protect all of us. And we watched him lie through his teeth every afternoon around 5:00, when all we really needed from him, and all we asked from him, from the beginning, was the truth. That's what we needed. And that truth would have long ago set us free from what is now an ongoing and seemingly endless nightmare.

President Trump tweeted on Thursday:

Bob Woodward had my quotes for many months. If he thought they were so bad or dangerous, why didn’t he immediately report them in an effort to save lives? Didn’t he have an obligation to do so? No, because he knew they were good and proper answers. Calm, no panic!

Also See:

Pelosi Says: ‘Yes,” She Is Blaming Some COVID-19 Deaths on Trump
Kamala Harris: “Trump and Pence Got Us…180,000 Lives Cut Short by Coronavirus’

 

 

 

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