What Was Trump Tweeting About Coronavirus One Year Ago?

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images One year ago today, the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. In ...


WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 07: Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens to U.S. President Donald Trump speak to reporters following a meeting of the coronavirus task force in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on April 7, 2020 in Washington, DC. The president today removed the independent chairman of a committee tasked with overseeing the roll out of the $2 trillion coronavirus bailout package. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

One year ago today, the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. In the United States, Covid-19 was deemed a public health emergency in early February, but it wasn’t until March that the pandemic was pronounced a national emergency, America started going into lockdown, and society was brought to a grinding halt.

March was also the month that the coronavirus pandemic became the issue that would come to define Donald Trump’s final year as president of the United States.

Over the course of the pandemic, Trump repeatedly downplayed the severity of the virus, pushed false information about it, fought with Democratic governors enforcing Covid restrictions, and defied public safety guidelines on numerous occasions to hold mega rallies. He even caught Covid himself — and was hospitalized — after an event at the White House that was deemed a super-spreader.

But the way the president handled the pandemic in March, specifically, is worth examining now that we are a year removed. And like most things involving Trump, the story can be told via tweets.

In the first of his March tweets about the pandemic, Trump sought to turn the virus into a focal point for his war with the media, a theme he pursued early and often. In one tweet from March 9 that has aged particularly poorly, Trump decried media coverage of the virus, and quoted then-Surgeon General Jerome Adams as saying the risk of coronavirus is “low.”

Adams’s full comment was far more cautious: “The risk to the average American of coronavirus at this time remains low,” he said. “However, we are seeing pockets in this country of increased cases of coronavirus. And so, we want people to prepare.”

Trump’s self-praise reached an early flashpoint when he bragged that the White House coronavirus press briefings were getting higher ratings than The Bachelor — as Americans were dying from a virus that would eventually tear through the United States.

Trump would later abandon the Coronavirus Task Force briefings (but only after suggesting that humans could inject disinfectant into their bodies to kill the virus).

In one tweet on March 5, Trump said his administration was working to keep numbers low. But on March 9, Trump infamously compared Covid-19 to the flu, in a tweet that would prove to be far from prescient. There were 22 deaths in the United States when he posted that tweet, there would be more than 500,000 within a year of it.

Despite the Trump administration’s tough talk on China, in March he repeatedly praised the country for its work on combatting the coronavirus. In a tweet on March 27, he praised the country’s “strong understanding” of the virus. This tweet came after he previously praised China for their “transparency,” said they were “working very hard to contain” the coronavirus, and “It will all work out well.”

But just a few weeks before, Trump called Covid-19 the “Chinese virus” in a tweet, as part of his muddled effort to pin blame on China.

Finally, in his last tweet of the month, Trump claimed the economy would come “roaring back again, and fast.” His tweet preceded the biggest economic downturn in decades.

The rest is grim history, as more than half a million Americans have died since then — and continue to die even as the country races to get vaccinated — and Trump’s China-bashing escalated into overt racism that has been accompanied by a rise in anti-Asian violence and harassment. Trump has since been banned from Twitter over his incitement of violence related to the Capitol insurrection, an event that will likely stand as a bookend to the pandemic in his legacy.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.



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