Facebook Twitter Tumblr Close Skip to main content
A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Death Quote Wrongly Attributed to Trump

Quick Take

Social media posts are spreading a quote falsely attributed to President Donald Trump about the coronavirus. He didn’t say, “People are dying who have never died before.” But Ernest Hemingway did.

Full Story

A quote falsely attributed to President Donald Trump has spread widely online, ratcheting up animosity over his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.

One popular version of the claim on Facebook features a picture of Trump and says: “‘People are dying who have never died before.’ – Donald J. Trump, March 18, 2020.”

Other versions claim the date was March 17.

But we could find no record of Trump having ever said that.

A review of his appearances on March 17 and 18 shows that he made no such remark. On March 17 he gave a press briefing with his Coronavirus Task Force and met with executives from the tourism industry. On March 18 he gave another press briefing with his task force and met with representatives of major nurses’ organizations. In none of those appearances did he make such a statement.

The quote itself is real, though.

Author Ernest Hemingway was fond of using that phrase, according to a biography of American writer Glenway Wescott. The writer of that biography, Jerry Rosco, told us that detail came from Mary Hemingway’s autobiography, “How It Was.”

So, Trump hasn’t said it, but someone has.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.


C-SPAN. “Coronavirus Task Force Briefing.” 17 Mar 2020.

C-SPAN. “Presidential Meeting with Tourism Executives.” 17 Mar 2020.

C-SPAN. “President Trump and Coronavirus Task Force Brief Reporters.” 18 Mar 2020.

C-SPAN. “President Trump Meeting with Nurses on Coronavirus Response.” 18 Mar 2020.

Rosco, Jerry. Author, “Glenway Wescott Personally.” Telephone interview. 18 Mar 2020.