Trump says he knew coronavirus was a pandemic ‘long before’ it was declared
President Trump on Tuesday said that he realized that the coronavirus outbreak was a pandemic before the World Health Organization (WHO) labeled it as such last week.
“This is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic,” Trump said at a press conference with his coronavirus task force. “All you had to do was look at other countries.”
— Michael Holmes (@holmescnn) March 17, 2020
The president’s comments were in response to being asked if he agreed that his rhetoric surrounding the coronavirus become more reserved on Monday. Trump disagreed, saying that he always knew the outbreak was “serious.”
Trump’s answer immediately drew ire, with some pointing to a March 9 tweet of the president’s.
“The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its semi-considerable power (it used to be greater!) to inflame the CoronaVirus situation, far beyond what the facts would warrant,” Trump tweeted at the time.
The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its semi-considerable power (it used to be greater!) to inflame the CoronaVirus situation, far beyond what the facts would warrant. Surgeon General, “The risk is low to the average American.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 9, 2020
Trump also previously characterized the virus as a Democratic “hoax.”
In the past week, the Trump administration has ramped up its efforts to combat the illness that has infected more than 5,600 Americans and caused more than 90 deaths.
Late last week, Trump declared the outbreak a national health emergency, which freed up billions of dollars of potential aid. During his press conference Tuesday, Trump said that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would be meeting with Senate Republicans later in the day to talk about the third phase of an economic stimulus package aimed at helping the economic fallout that has been caused by COVID-19.
Numerous states have forced restaurants and bars to close in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus and called on Americans to work from home. The Trump administration on Monday recommended that people should avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.