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Video: Trump’s Repeated Coronavirus Claims

President Donald Trump has repeatedly misstated the facts at the White House coronavirus briefings.

In this video, we feature five examples from our story “An April Filled With Repeats.”

Not a “travel ban.” At least four times in April, the president said he had imposed a “travel ban” on China or “closed the border.” But the Trump administration’s travel restrictions stopped well short of a “ban.” The policy, which took effect Feb. 2, prohibits non-U.S. citizens who have traveled to China within the previous two weeks from entering the U.S., but the new rules don’t apply to U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents and their immediate family members. 

Misleading claims of a “broken system.” Throughout April, Trump repeatedly claimed he had “inherited a broken system” of testing from previous administrations. Once, he referred to it as a “broken test.” As we explained, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention alone couldn’t conduct the amount of testing this pandemic demanded, but it was never designed for that — a point Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has made. “The CDC designed a good system.” Fauci said on March 13. “If you want to get the kind of blanket testing and availability that anybody can get it or you could even do surveillance to find out what the penetrance is, you have to embrace the private sector.”

Not the “greatest economy.” On 11 occasions in April, Trump said that the United States had “the greatest economy in the history of the world” before it was shut down by the coronavirus pandemic. On April 10, he also used a variation, “the greatest economy ever created,” and on April 4, he settled for the more modest “greatest economy in the world.” Under Trump, the economy was in good shape, but it has gone through many periods of more robust growth than it has under the Trump administration. Over the last 39 years — dating to Ronald Reagan’s presidency — the nation’s real annual economic growth has reached or exceeded Trump’s peak year of 2.9% 19 times, including once under President Barack Obama.

Pushing an unproven treatment. On at least five occasions in April, Trump made false and misleading claims about the benefits of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, while downplaying the antimalarial drug’s risks. The president said that hydroxychloroquine is “looking like it’s having some good results,” even after Fauci cautioned that there was only anecdotal evidence. Trump claimed that “there’s a study out that people with lupus aren’t catching this horrible virus,” when in fact there is no such study and lupus patients do contract COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. And he claimed “malaria countries … have very little of this virus,” citing nonexistent “studies.” We found that hydroxychloroquine is not widely used for malaria in much of the world. On April 8, Trump said his administration had purchased “30 million doses” of hydroxychloroquine based on “a lot of good stories” and “some very good results” that the drug worked against COVID-19. But by April 24, the FDA issued a warning against using “hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine for COVID-19 outside of the hospital setting or a clinical trial due to risk of heart rhythm problems.”

Strategic National Stockpile wasn’t “empty.” Trump has frequently claimed — falsely — that the federal stockpile of emergency medicine and supplies was “empty” or “bare” when he took office. The government does not disclose the exact counts of the stockpile’s contents, but, as of 2016, the year before Trump took office, there were at least six warehouses holding “approximately $7 billion in products across more than 900 separate line items,” according to a report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

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