President Donald Trump announced in the early hours of Oct. 2 that he and the first lady had tested positive for COVID-19. By late afternoon, the White House said that “out of an abundance of caution” the president was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he would spend the next few days.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, the president has been downplaying the risks of COVID-19 — questioning the effectiveness of masks, touting unproven treatments and criticizing his own health experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Here is a timeline of the president’s comments on COVID-19 and his administration’s handling of it.
In the early days of what would turn out to be a pandemic, the president repeatedly minimized the threat posed by the novel coronavirus.
Jan. 20: The first confirmed coronavirus case is reported in the United States.
Jan. 22: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.” — Trump in a CNBC interview.
Jan. 30: The World Health Organization declares a public health emergency of international concern.
Jan. 30: “We think we have it very well under control. We have very little problem in this country at this moment — five — and those people are all recuperating successfully. But we’re working very closely with China and other countries, and we think it’s going to have a very good ending for us … that I can assure you.” — Trump in a speech in Michigan.
Jan. 31: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declares a public health emergency for the U.S.
Jan. 31: HHS Secretary Alex Azar announces travel restrictions, effective Feb. 2. The policy prohibits non-U.S. citizens, other than permanent residents and the immediate family of both citizens and permanent residents, who have traveled to China within the prior two weeks from entering the U.S.
Trump privately tells journalist Bob Woodward that the novel coronavirus is “deadly stuff,” but continues to tell the public that it is “under control,” even suggesting that it could go away in the spring.
Feb. 7: “It goes through air, Bob. That’s always tougher than the touch … You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. And, so that’s a very tricky one. … It’s also more deadly than your – you know, your, even your strenuous flus. … This is more deadly. This is 5, you know, this is 5% versus 1% and less than 1%. You know, so, this is deadly stuff.” — Trump in an interview with Woodward, released in September.
Feb. 10: “Now, the virus that we’re talking about having to do — you know, a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat — as the heat comes in. Typically, that will go away in April. We’re in great shape though. We have 12 cases — 11 cases, and many of them are in good shape now.” — Trump at the White House. (See our item “Will the New Coronavirus ‘Go Away’ in April?“)
Feb. 14: “There’s a theory that, in April, when it gets warm — historically, that has been able to kill the virus. So we don’t know yet; we’re not sure yet. But that’s around the corner.” — Trump in speaking to National Border Patrol Council members.
Feb. 24: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!” — Trump in a tweet.
Feb. 26: “So we’re at the low level. As they get better, we take them off the list, so that we’re going to be pretty soon at only five people. And we could be at just one or two people over the next short period of time. So we’ve had very good luck.”
“I think every aspect of our society should be prepared. I don’t think it’s going to come to that, especially with the fact that we’re going down, not up. We’re going very substantially down, not up.” — when asked if “U.S. schools should be preparing for a coronavirus spreading.”
“I want you to understand something that shocked me when I saw it that — and I spoke with Dr. [Anthony] Fauci on this, and I was really amazed, and I think most people are amazed to hear it: The flu, in our country, kills from 25,000 people to 69,000 people a year. That was shocking to me. And, so far, if you look at what we have with the 15 people and their recovery, one is — one is pretty sick but hopefully will recover, but the others are in great shape. But think of that: 25,000 to 69,000. Over the last 10 years, we’ve lost 360,000.”
“But that’s a little bit like the flu. It’s a little like the regular flu that we have flu shots for. And we’ll essentially have a flu shot for this in a fairly quick manner.” — Trump at a White House coronavirus task force briefing.
Feb. 27: “It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.” — Trump at a White House meeting with African American leaders.
Feb. 28: “So a number that nobody heard of that I heard of recently, and I was shocked to hear it, 35,000 people on average die each year from the flu. Did anyone know that? … They say usually a minimum of 27, goes up to 100,000 people a year die, and so far we have lost nobody to coronavirus in the United States. Nobody. And it doesn’t mean we won’t and we are totally prepared. It doesn’t mean we won’t. But think of it, you hear 35 and 40,000 people and we’ve lost nobody. You wonder, the press is in hysteria mode.”
“Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus, you know that, right? Coronavirus, they’re politicizing it. We did one of the great jobs. You say, ‘How’s President Trump doing?’ They go, ‘Oh, not good, not good.’ They have no clue. They don’t have any clue. … They tried the impeachment hoax. That was on a perfect conversation. They tried anything. They tried it over and over. They’d been doing it since you got in. It’s all turning. They lost. It’s all turning. Think of it. Think of it. And this is their new hoax.” — Trump at a rally in North Charleston, South Carolina.
Feb. 29: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announces the first confirmed death from COVID-19 in the United States. Later, autopsy results in California attributed two deaths in early and mid-February to the disease.
“No. No. No. Hoax referring to the action that they [Democrats] take to try and pin this on somebody because we’ve done such a good job. The hoax is on them not … I’m not talking about what’s happening here. I’m talking what they’re doing. That’s the hoax.” — Trump in a coronavirus task force briefing, when asked if he regretting using the word “hoax” the night before.
By mid-March, the World Health Organization declared a pandemic; the Trump administration took steps to slow the spread; and the president and the remaining Democratic candidates stopped staging public campaign events. But by the end of the month, Trump talked about reopening the U.S. and having “packed churches all over our country” for Easter.
March 2: Trump holds a campaign rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, his last rally before coronavirus shutdown measures are implemented across the country. Crowd-size estimates ranged from 7,000 to 15,000 people, according to WRAL-TV in Raleigh.
“My administration has also taken the most aggressive action in modern history to protect Americans from the coronavirus,” he says. “We had a great meeting today with a lot of the great companies and they’re going to have vaccines. I think relatively soon and they’re going to have something that makes you better and that’s going to actually take place, we think, even sooner.”
“I think it’s very safe,” Trump tells reporters that morning when asked whether having rallies during a public health crisis was safe.
March 4: “[W]e have a very small number of people in this country [infected]. We have a big country. The biggest impact we had was when we took the 40-plus people [from a cruise ship]. … We brought them back. We immediately quarantined them. But you add that to the numbers. But if you don’t add that to the numbers, we’re talking about very small numbers in the United States.” — Trump at a White House meeting with airline CEOs.
“Well, I think the 3.4% is really a false number.” — Trump in an interview on Fox News, referring to the percentage of diagnosed COVID-19 patients worldwide who had died, as reported by the World Health Organization. (See our item “Trump and the Coronavirus Death Rate.”)
March 6: “We’ve had 11 deaths, and they’ve been largely old people who are — who were susceptible to what’s happening. Now, that would be the case, I assume, with a regular flu too. If somebody is old and in a weakened state or ill, they’re susceptible to the common flu too. You know, they were telling me just now that the common flu kills people and old people is sort of a target.” — Trump after a tour of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
March 7: “No, I’m not concerned at all. No, we’ve done a great job with it.” — Trump, when asked by reporters if he was concerned about the arrival of the coronavirus in the Washington, D.C., area.
March 9: “So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!” — Trump in a tweet.
March 10: “And we’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.” — Trump after meeting with Republican senators.
March 11: The WHO declares the global outbreak a pandemic.
March 13: Trump declares a national emergency concerning the coronavirus.
March 15: “This is a very contagious — this is a very contagious virus. It’s incredible. But it’s something that we have tremendous control over.” — Trump at a White House task force briefing.
March 16: The White House announces recommendations for a 15-day period to slow the spread of the coronavirus, including staying at home if you feel sick, have a household member who tests positive or are older or have a serious health condition.
“When I’m talking about control, I’m saying we are doing a very good job within the confines of what we’re dealing with. We’re doing a very good job. … If you’re talking about the virus, no, that’s not under control for any place in the world. … I was talking about what we’re doing is under control.” — Trump at a White House task force press briefing.
March 17: “I’ve always known this is a — this is a real — this is a pandemic. I’ve felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.” — Trump at a White House task force press briefing.
March 19: “To be honest with you, I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.” — Trump in an interview with journalist Woodward, released in September.
March 23: “People get tremendous anxiety and depression, and you have suicides over things like this when you have terrible economies. You have death. Probably and — I mean, definitely — would be in far greater numbers than the numbers that we’re talking about with regard to the virus.” — Trump at a White House task force briefing.
March 24: “So I think Easter Sunday and you’ll have packed churches all over our country. I think it would be a beautiful time. And it’s just about the timeline that I think is right.” — Trump in an interview on Fox News.
“I brought some numbers here, we lose thousands and thousands of people a year to the flu. We don’t turn the country off, I mean every year. Now when I heard the number, we average 37,000 people a year. Can you believe that? And actually this year we’re having a bad flu season, but we lose thousands of people a year to the flu. We never turn the country off. We lose much more than that to automobile accidents. We didn’t call up the automobile companies, say, ‘Stop making cars. We don’t want any cars anymore.’ We have to get back to work.” — Trump at a Fox News virtual town hall.
March 29: “So you’re talking about 2.2. million deaths — 2.2 million people from this. And so, if we can hold that down, as we’re saying, to 100,000 — that’s a horrible number — maybe even less, but to 100,000; so we have between 100- and 200,000 — we all, together, have done a very good job.” — Trump at a White House task force press briefing.
March 30: The White House extends its “slow the spread” recommendations to April 30.
“We can expect that, by June 1st, we will be well on our way to recovery. We think, by June 1st, a lot of great things will be happening.” — Trump in announcing the extension of those recommendations.
March 31: “I mean, I’ve had many friends, business people, people with great, actually, common sense, they said, ‘Why don’t we ride it out?’ A lot of people have said, a lot of people have thought about it, ‘Ride it out, don’t do anything, just ride it out, and think of it as the flu.’ But it’s not the flu.” — Trump at a White House task force briefing.
The president undermines the CDC’s recommendation on wearing face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, urges governors to open up their states and suggests ways to use ultraviolet rays and disinfectant to treat COVID-19.
April 1: “Because remember, after a month or so — I think once this passes, we’re not going to have to be, hopefully, worried too much about the virus.”
“Together, we have the power to save countless lives. We’re attacking the virus on every front with social distancing, economic support for our workers, rapid medical intervention, and very serious innovation, and banning dangerous foreign travel that threatens the health of our people. And we did that early — far earlier than anyone would have thought and way ahead of anybody else.” — Trump in a task force press briefing.
April 2: “We’re racing to develop new ways to protect against the virus, as well as therapies, treatments, and ultimately a vaccine. And we’re making a lot of progress. I think, medically, a lot of progress.” — Trump in a task force press briefing.
April 3: The CDC recommends that people begin “wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.”
“So it’s voluntary; you don’t have to do it. They suggested for a period of time. But this is voluntary. I don’t think I’m going to be doing it. … So with the masks, it’s going to be, really, a voluntary thing. You can do it. You don’t have to do it. I’m choosing not to do it, but some people may want to do it, and that’s okay. It may be good. Probably will. They’re making a recommendation. It’s only a recommendation. It’s voluntary.” — Trump in a task force press briefing, announcing the CDC recommendation on face masks.
April 5: “We’re starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. And hopefully, in the not-too-distant future, we’ll be very proud of the job we all did. We can never be happy when so many people are dying, but we’re going to be very proud of the job we did to keep the death down to an absolute minimum — the least it could have happened with this terrible, terrible virus.” — Trump in a task force press briefing.
April 8: “I also spoke with more than 3,000 mayors, county commissioners, and state and tribal leaders to provide an update on our administration’s ongoing drive to beat the virus, to crush the virus. And that’s happening. And it’s happening, I think if you look, a little bit more quickly than people thought. Maybe a lot more quickly, I hope. And it’s something that all over the world we’re watching, but people are watching us and seeing what we’re doing, and they’re very impressed.” — Trump in a task force press briefing.
April 13: “America is continuing to make critical progress in our war against the virus. Over the weekend, the number of daily new infections remained flat nationwide. … This is clear evidence that our aggressive strategy to combat the virus is working and that Americans are following the guidelines.” — Trump in a task force press briefing.
April 16: “As we reopen, we know that there will be continued hardships and challenges ahead. Our goal will be to quickly identify and address any outbreaks and put them out rapidly. If the virus returns in the fall, as some scientists think it may possibly, these guidelines will ensure that our country is up and running so that we can likewise put it out quickly.” — Trump in a task force press briefing.
April 17: “I don’t want people to think that this going to be like this forever. But, for a period of time, we’re going to have to keep it that way. That includes baseball games and football games, and other things. But eventually, as this virus goes away, it’s going to be better and better.” — Trump in a task force press briefing
April 20: “We continue to be encouraged that many of the areas hardest hit by the virus appear to have turned the corner.” — Trump in a task force press briefing.
April 21: “Therefore, in order to protect American workers, I will be issuing a temporary suspension of immigration into the United States; you heard about that last night.” — Trump in a task force press briefing.
April 22: “This virus will eventually be gone. And if it should show up in the fall, we’re going to put it out very fast.” — Trump in a task force press briefing.
April 22: “No problem with face masks, if the governors want to do that.” — Trump at a task force press briefing.
April 23: “So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light, and I think you said that hasn’t been checked, but you’re going to test it. And then I said supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way. And I think you said you’re going to test that too. Sounds interesting, right? And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning, because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it’d be interesting to check that. So that you’re going to have to use medical doctors with, but it sounds interesting to me. So, we’ll see, but the whole concept of the light, the way it kills it in one minute. That’s pretty powerful.” — Trump in a task force press briefing.
April 24: “This is where they’ve come in with a final report that sun has a massive impact, negatively, on this virus. In other words, it does not live well with humidity, and it doesn’t live well with sun, sunlight, heat. It doesn’t live well with heat and sun and disinfectant. And that’s what I brought out. And I thought it was clear.” — Trump in a bill signing ceremony, when asked to “clarify your comments about injections of disinfectant” from the previous day.
April 28: Confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. hit 1 million. More than 57,000 people in the country have died from the virus.
April 29: “I don’t want people to get used to this because this virus is going to be gone. And when it’s gone, you want to get back to normal. You’re not going to have a stadium that’s 30% the size of what it was three months ago. If I watch Alabama play LSU, I don’t want to see 20,000 people instead of 120,000 people. We want it to be the way it was. Now, we going to wait until it’s gone. And it will be gone. And we’ve done a lot to get rid of it. But we — we want to open our country. The people want this country open.” — in a roundtable with industry executives.
April 30: “But as far as where I’m going in Arizona, I’m going to have to look at the climate. I’d have no problem wearing a mask. I don’t know. I’m supposed to make a speech. I just don’t know: Should I speak in a mask? You’re going to have to tell me if that’s politically correct. I don’t know. If it is, I’ll speak in a mask.” — Trump in White House remarks, when asked about wearing a mask during his upcoming visit to Arizona on May 5.
In May, the number of U.S. coronavirus deaths passed 100,000, and the president disclosed he was taking an unproven treatment — hydroxychloroquine — to prevent COVID-19.
May 3: “On Jan. 23, I was told that there could be a virus coming in, but it was of no real import. In other words, it wasn’t, oh, we have got to do something, we have got to do something. It was a brief conversation.” — Trump in a Fox News town hall, when asked about reports that he was briefed on the threat of the virus in January.
“Intelligence has just reported to me that I was correct, and that they did NOT bring up the CoronaVirus subject matter until late into January, just prior to my banning China from the U.S. Also, they only spoke of the Virus in a very non-threatening, or matter of fact, manner … ” — Trump in a tweet.
May 5: “You know, the virus will pass. There’ll be more death, that the virus will pass, with or without a vaccine. And I think we’re doing very well on the vaccines but, with or without a vaccine, it’s going to pass, and we’re going to be back to normal. But it’s been a rough process. There is no question about it.” — Trump in an ABC News interview.
May 6: “I mean, I had a mask on, but I didn’t need it. And I asked specifically the head of Honeywell: ‘Should I wear a mask?’ And he said, ‘Well, you don’t need one in this territory.’ And as you know, we were far away from people, from the people making the masks. They were making the masks.” — Trump at a White House signing ceremony, when asked if he wore a mask during his Arizona visit.
“Will it come back in a small way? Will it come back in a fairly large way? But we know how to deal with it now much better. You know, nobody knew anything about it, initially. Now we know we can put out fires. We can put out — I call them ’embers’ if it’s a small — or if it’s a fire or a hotspot, we could put it out.” — Trump at the same signing ceremony.
May 8: “Well, I feel about vaccines like I feel about tests. This is going to go away without a vaccine. It’s going to go away, and it’s — we’re not going to see it again, hopefully, after a period of time. You may have some — some flare-ups and I guess, you know, I would expect that. Sometime in the fall, you’ll have flare-ups maybe. Maybe not. But according to what a lot of people say, you probably will. We’ll be able to put them out.” — Trump in a meeting with Republican members of Congress.
May 11: “Coronavirus numbers are looking MUCH better, going down almost everywhere. Big progress being made!” — Trump in a tweet.
May 14: “So we have the best testing in the world. It could be that testing is, frankly, overrated. Maybe it is overrated.” — Trump in remarks at Owens & Minor Inc. Distribution Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
May 18: “I’m taking it — hydroxychloroquine. … Right now. Yeah. A couple of weeks ago, I started taking it. … Because I think it’s good. I’ve heard a lot of good stories.” — Trump in a roundtable with restaurant executives. (See our story “Trump Misleads on Hydroxychloroquine, Again.”)
May 19: “So when we have a lot of cases, I don’t look at that as a bad thing; I look at that as — in a certain respect, as being a good thing because it means our testing is much better.” — Trump in a cabinet meeting.
May 25: “Great reviews on our handling of Covid 19, sometimes referred to as the China Virus. Ventilators, Testing, Medical Supply Distribution, we made a lot of Governors look very good – And got no credit for so doing. Most importantly, we helped a lot of great people!” — Trump in a tweet.
May 27: More than 100,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the U.S.
May 29: “Our nation continues to mourn for the lives claimed by the virus and grieve for the families who have lost loved ones.” — Trump in a roundtable discussion with executives on reopening the country.
About a week after the number of confirmed U.S. cases of COVID-19 topped 2 million on June 11, Trump held an indoor rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma — the first since the pandemic began. He also attempted to refute the rising number of cases by falsely claiming, “If we didn’t do testing, we’d have no cases.”
June 3: “I also think by the end of the year we’ll have a vaccine. We’re doing very well. I just had a meeting yesterday. I think we’re going to have therapeutics, and I think we’re going to have cures. So we’re going to be in very good shape.” — Trump in a Fox Radio Network interview.
June 5: “I think, in the fall, you’re going to see the schools all open and in great shape.” — Trump at a medical products firm in Maine.
June 11: Confirmed cases top 2 million.
June 17: “I think it’s time to start our country up again, basically. And could we keep it shut longer? Personally, I don’t think so. I don’t think people would take it. And I think it would be the wrong thing to do.”
“On coronavirus, I acted very quickly, and I acted early. And they can’t get over it. Number one. Number two. If I didn’t act, we would have had 3 million deaths. And instead we’re at 110,000. And we could be heading to a number that’s, you know, higher than 150,000 to [200,000], it could be ending all now depending on how it goes.” — Trump in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
“The children, the numbers are very, very small, almost — almost nonexistent. And it’s an incredible thing. Their immune system is very strong. And so we have to get the schools open.” — Trump in a Fox News interview.
June 20: “They call me, they say the job you’re doing — here’s the bad part, when you test of — when you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases. So, I said to my people slow the testing down, please.” — Trump at a Tulsa, Oklahoma, indoor rally, his first since the pandemic was declared in March.
June 25: “So, we have more cases because we do the greatest testing. If we didn’t do testing, we’d have no cases. Other countries — they don’t test millions. So we’re up to almost 30 million tests. So when you do 30 million, you’re going to have a kid with the sniffles, and they’ll say it’s coronavirus — whatever you want to call it.” — Trump in a televised virtual town hall. (See our story “Trump Falsely Says COVID-19 Surge ‘Only’ Due to Testing, Misleads on Deaths.”)
At the start of July, the president talked about “progress” and how the virus will “sort of just disappear.” But the president later canceled the Jacksonville, Florida, portion of the Republican convention, as U.S. coronavirus cases exceeded 4 million and deaths topped 150,000, including the death of Trump supporter and former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain.
July 1: “Well, I don’t know if you need mandatory [requirements], because you have many places in the country where people stay very long distance. You talk about social distancing. But I’m all for masks. I think masks are good. I would wear — if I were in a group of people, and I was close. … I mean, I would have no problem. Actually, I had a mask on. I sort of liked the way I looked, OK? I thought it was OK. It was a dark black mask, and I thought it looked OK. Looked like the Lone Ranger.”
“I think we are going to be very good with the coronavirus. I think that, at some point, that’s going to sort of just disappear, I hope.” — Trump in a Fox Business Network interview.
July 4: “We’ve made a lot of progress. Our strategy is moving along well.” — Trump marking Independence Day with remarks in Washington, D.C.
July 9: “They have been wrong about a lot of things, including face masks. Maybe they are wrong, maybe not. But a lot of them said, don’t wear a mask, don’t wear a mask. And now they are saying, wear a mask.” — Trump in a telephone interview with Sean Hannity, referring to scientists’ recommendations on wearing face masks.
July 14: “Well, I’d say listen to that instruction, listen to your governors. But I have to say the same people that say wear a mask are people that said, a long time ago, don’t wear a mask, masks are bad. They said they’re not good. So, you know, like Dr. Fauci, surgeon general, a lot of people — a lot of people — the surgeon general said that also.” — Trump in a CBS News interview.
“I don’t agree with the statement that if everybody wear a mask everything disappears. Hey, Dr. Fauci said don’t wear a mask. Our surgeon general — terrific guy — said don’t wear a mask. Everybody who is saying don’t wear a mask — all of sudden everybody’s got to wear a mask, and as you know masks cause problems, too. With that being said, I’m a believer in masks. I think masks are good. But I leave it up to the governors.” — Trump in a Fox News interview.
July 17: “We had great rallies in Wisconsin and all over the country, and unfortunately until this gets solved … it’s going to be tough to have those big massive rallies.” — Trump in a virtual Wisconsin tele-rally.
July 20: “We are United in our effort to defeat the Invisible China Virus, and many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can’t socially distance. There is nobody more Patriotic than me, your favorite President!” — Trump in a tweet.
July 21: “We’re asking everybody that when you are not able to socially distance, wear a mask, get a mask. Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact. They’ll have an effect.” — Trump in a press briefing.
July 21: “Some areas of our country are doing very well; others are doing less well. It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better — something I don’t like saying about things, but that’s the way it is.” — Trump at a White House briefing.
“You will never hear this on the Fake News concerning the China Virus, but by comparison to most other countries, who are suffering greatly, we are doing very well – and we have done things that few other countries could have done!” — Trump in a tweet.
July 22: “I believe that you should wear it, even if there’s a 1% chance it helps. You know, when you look at Dr. Fauci and others — and this isn’t a knock, because this is just the way it — if you look, early on, they were all saying, don’t wear a mask. Don’t wear a mask. That didn’t make total sense to me, but don’t wear a mask. Now they’re all saying, wear a mask. My attitude is, it probably helps. Give it a shot, because we have to win this thing.” — Trump in a Fox News interview.
July 23: Confirmed cases hit 4 million in the U.S.
“We’re setting an example. We don’t want to have people so close together.” — Trump in a Fox News interview, when asked about the decision to cancel convention activities scheduled for Jacksonville, Florida, and move the event back to North Carolina.
July 28: “We’re seeing improvements across the major metro areas and most hotspots. You can look at large portions of our country; it’s — it’s corona-free.” — Trump at a White House briefing.
July 29: Deaths in the U.S. attributed to COVID-19 surpass 150,000.
July 30: “Let me begin by expressing our sadness at the passing of a wonderful man and a dear friend of mine, Herman Cain. He was a very special person. I got to know him very well. And unfortunately, he passed away from the thing called the China virus.” — Trump at a White House briefing, referring to the former Republican candidate for president, who attended Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
July 31: “The single best way to defeat the disease is personal responsibility. You’ve heard me say it. You’ve heard a lot of people say it, actually. I urge all Americans to protect the elderly. The fact is you have to do the social distancing thing. It’s very important. Socially distance. Wear a mask when you cannot avoid crowded places or socially distance. And wash your hands as often as possible.” — Trump during a roundtable in Belleair, Florida.
The president started the month with an interview where he said, when asked about COVID-19 deaths, “it is what it is.” He continued to urge Americans to social distance, but he also disregarded New Jersey’s social distancing requirements by holding a press briefing attended by supporters at his golf club in the state. During the month, U.S. COVID-19 cases passed 5 million and, 22 days later, exceeded 6 million.
Aug. 3: “They are dying [of coronavirus]. That’s true. And it is what it is.” — Trump in an interview with Axois.
“Very, very important — protect the elderly. It’s much different. Young children have very strong immune systems. We’ve learned how strong they are. But protect the elderly. The average age of those who succumb to the virus is 78 years old.” — Trump at a White House press briefing.
“With the exception of New York & a few other locations, we’ve done MUCH better than most other Countries in dealing with the China Virus. Many of these countries are now having a major second wave. The Fake News is working overtime to make the USA (& me) look as bad as possible!” — Trump in a tweet.
Aug. 4: “People question masks, but there’s no downside in wearing them, and you go with the masks.” — Trump in a Gray TV interview.
Aug. 5: “I also urge Americans to help us stop the spread of the virus. Practice good hygiene, socially distance, avoid large crowds, and wear a mask where distancing is not possible. It’s a patriotic thing to do.” — Trump at a White House briefing.
Aug. 7: Trump held a press briefing inside the Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey that was attended by golf club guests, many without face masks or practicing social distancing in violation of state guidelines. When asked “why are you setting such a bad example,” Trump told the reporter: “You know, you have an exclusion in the law. It says ‘peaceful protest’ or ‘political activity,’ right? … I’d call it ‘peaceful protests’ because they heard you were coming up. And they know the news is fake.”
Aug. 9: The U.S. confirmed case count tops 5 million.
“We urge all Americans to socially distance and avoid large crowds and all of the things that we talk about all the time.” — Trump at a White House briefing.
Aug. 10: “Underlying conditions is a very big one. If you’re — if you’re sick in any way, if you’re — if — especially, they say, heart and diabetes. That’s not a good thing to have if you — if you’re going to have this, if you’re going to catch it.” — Trump at a White House briefing.
Aug. 11: “America is winning the war against the virus.” — Trump in remarks at a North Carolina tele-rally.
“So we want to see college football start, and, hopefully, a lot of great people are going to be out there. They’re going to be out there, playing football, and they’ll be able to fight it off. And hopefully, it won’t bother them one bit. Most of them will never get it, statistically.” — Trump at a White House briefing.
Aug. 13: “So we’ll defeat the virus, but not by hiding in our basements. He’s got to come out of his basement. We’ll defeat this virus through a commonsense mitigation effort, shielding those at highest risk, and unleashing America’s medical and scientific genius.” — Trump at a White House briefing, referring to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
“Yeah, I’m thinking about going directly to the U.N. to do the speech. A lot of people will not, because of COVID — will not be able to be there, as you know. But I’m thinking — I think it’s appropriate. If we can do it, I’ll do it directly.” — Trump at a White House briefing, confirming he wants to deliver a speech in person at the U.N. General Assembly in September. He did not.
Aug. 18: “Shutdowns cause, I think probably, or possibly, much bigger problems than even the virus itself.” — Trump in a local TV interview in Phoenix, Arizona.
Aug. 19: “Older Americans are still the most vulnerable to the virus: 92% of deaths have occurred among those 55 and older. … For older people and individuals with underlying conditions, the China virus is very dangerous, but for university students, the likelihood of severe illness is less than or equal to the risk of a seasonal few — a seasonal flu.” — Trump at a White House briefing.
Aug. 20: “Shutdown Wolf. He can’t do this. He’s going to destroy your soul. You know, what happens is depression, anxiety, problems with family members, drugs, heart attacks, obesity. I mean, what is he doing? It’s more dangerous than the virus. He’s got to open this state up.” — Trump at a campaign stop in Old Forge, Pennsylvania, where he criticized Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, referring to him as “Shutdown Wolf.” (As of July 3, all Pennsylvania counties have been in the green phase of reopening with restrictions on bars, restaurants and large gatherings.)
Aug. 23: “Today, I’m pleased to make a truly historic announcement in our battle against the China virus that will save countless lives. The FDA has issued an emergency use authorization — and that’s such a powerful term: emergency use authorization — for a treatment known as convalescent plasma. … it has proven to reduce mortality by 35%.” — Trump at a White House briefing. (His claim that convalescent plasma had been “proven to reduce mortality by 35%” is false.)
Aug. 24: “And when we get rid of this — this virus, which will happen, and it will happen sooner than people think — and that’s with the vaccines, but even without the vaccines. It’s happening.” — Trump in remarks outdoors in Mills River, North Carolina.
Aug. 28: “I want football back. These are young, strong guys, they’re not going to be affected by the virus. If you look at it, it’s generally older people, older people that have heart conditions, that have diabetes, that have problems.” — Trump at an outdoor rally in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Aug. 31: “I mobilized the largest response since World War II to fight the China virus and we are really doing well. Our numbers are excellent, really really good, and hopefully, we’re rounding the final turn on that disaster given to us by China.” — Trump in a virtual Nevada tele-rally.
The U.S. confirmed case count tops 6 million.
On the day COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. passed 200,000, the president told a Detroit TV station that “we have done an incredible job.” When the confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. topped 7 million, the president campaigned in Virginia — saying “we did a hell of a job.” He also returned to questioning the effectiveness of masks and held an indoor campaign rally.
Sept. 1: “I’m the one that says play football. I said, ‘They’re young strong people, they’re not going to have a problem with COVID or the China virus or whatever you want to call it.’ I’m the one — and they didn’t like my narrative, so they just made up a narrative. Because if you look, Michigan is closed. All of these states that are closed, North Carolina is closed — these states that are closed are run by Democrats, and the reason they’re closed is because we have an election on November 3, and they don’t want the opening of the states and they don’t want the income. They want to keep it nice and closed.” — Trump in an interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham.
Sept. 3: “I’ve never seen a man [Biden] that liked a mask more. Look, I’m all for it … but did you ever see a man that likes a mask as much as him? And then he makes a speech and he always has it, not always but a lot of times he has it hanging down because you know what, it gives him a feeling of security. If I were a psychiatrist — right? No, I’d say — I’d say this guy has got some big issues.” — Trump at a rally attended by a crowd estimated in the hundreds outside an airport in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.
Sept. 4: “So, on the China virus front, the nations of Europe have experienced a 38% greater excess mortality than the United States — 38% more greater excess mortality than the United States. A lot of you don’t want to report that. And if we took New York out of the equation, there’s nobody even close. The job we’ve done is incredible.” — Trump at a coronavirus briefing. (He is wrong about the excess mortality comparison; see our story “Trump Touts Misleading and Flawed Excess Mortality Statistic.”)
Sept. 4: “And we’ve done a fantastic job on this China virus, the invisible enemy. I get no credit for it.” — Trump at a North Carolina tele-rally.
Sept. 9: “I want to show a calmness. I’m the leader of the country, I can’t be jumping up and down and scaring people. I don’t want to scare people. I want people not to panic. And that’s exactly what I did.” — Trump in a Fox News interview.
Sept. 10: “We continue to make progress in our fight against the China virus. New weekly cases have declined by 44% since July. Deaths declined by 20% compared to just last week. It’s going down very rapidly. Really rapidly.” — Trump at a press conference.
“Before the end of the year, we will have a safe and effective vaccine and we will defeat the China virus.” — Trump at a rally attended by a crowd estimated at 5,000 outside an airport in Freeland, Michigan.
“We saved millions of lives and we closed it up. But we got hit, and now we’re opening it up and we’re doing records. We’re setting records. But I wanna see this state open.” — Trump in a local TV interview in Reno, Nevada.
Sept. 13: “We’re developing a vaccine in record time. … We’ll be ready before the end of the year and we will very easily defeat the China virus. That’s what’s happening and we’re already making that turn. We’re making that round beautiful last turn.” — Trump at an indoor rally in Henderson, Nevada, attended by thousands.
Sept. 14: “[T]his China virus was a big setback, but now we’re back to business.” — Trump at a Latinos for Trump roundtable in Phoenix, Arizona.
Sept. 15: “But we really are — we’re starting to get very good marks.”
“But whether it’s Dr. Fauci or anybody else, a lot of people got it wrong. They talked about don’t wear masks, and now they say wear masks. Although some people say don’t wear masks. I mean you have a lot of different ideas. … Now there is, by the way, a lot of people don’t want to wear masks. There are a lot of people think that masks are not good.” — Trump in an ABC News town hall.
Sept. 16: “On masks — masks have problems, too. And I talked about the masks have to be handled very gently, very carefully. I see that, in restaurants, they have people with masks and they’re playing around with their mask, and they have it — their fingers are in their mask and then they’re serving with plates. I mean, I think there’s a lot of problems with masks.” — Trump in a press briefing.
Sept. 17: “But we have three vaccines right now. They’re in the final stage, clinical trials. We worked it for the FDA where they approved it fast. They worked very fast, very quick, at levels that nobody else could have ever achieved.” — Trump at a rally attended by a crowd estimated in the thousands outside an airport in Mosinee, Wisconsin.
Sept. 18: “You don’t have to wear masks at protests. So I said, ‘You know, we can’t have a rally.’ The most we can have is 10 people, but why don’t we just call it a protest because this is a protest. It’s a protest against stupidity.” — Trump during a campaign rally in Bedmidji, Minnesota. (Trump reportedly addressed a crowd of “thousands.”)
Sept. 21: “Now we know it. It affects elderly people, elderly people with heart problems, and other problems. If they have other problems, that’s what it really affects. That’s it. You know, in some states thousands of people, nobody young, below the age of 18, like nobody. They have a strong immune system. Who knows? They look at you, take your hat off to the young because they have a hell of an immune system, but it affects virtually nobody.” –Trump at a rally outside an airport in Swanton, Ohio.
Sept. 22: “The CDC is people that have been there for a long time, long before me and I, I also don’t like the fact that they send out mixed messages. They put stuff in, they put it out, you know, it’s, I don’t know, they’ve been there a long time. The CDC, uh, comes out with all different messages. Now I’ll give you an example, uh, wear a mask, don’t wear a mask.”
“Because my supporters are very smart and they do, a lot of them wear masks and some don’t, that’s their choice. But they’re, you know, when you’re outside, you have a lot of room, and everything that I’ve read and everything that I’ve seen is outside is better in terms of COVID or as I call it the China virus. … You know, at one point they were saying, don’t wear a mask. Dr. Fauci said, don’t wear a mask — everybody was talking about like masks were bad thing. Then they come like masks are the greatest thing you can do. You know, you get all these different messages. And I guess I’m somewhere in the middle, to be honest with you.” — Trump in an interview with WGN America.
“But we have done an incredible job, and we’re doing an incredible job. And, uh, we will be, uh, we’re, in my opinion, we’re rounding the turn.” — Trump in an interview with a Detroit news station.
Deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19 surpass 200,000.
Sept. 24: “The China virus, it’s China, some people call it coronavirus. That sounds like a beautiful place in Italy, right? No, it didn’t come from Italy. It came from China. But this guy’s talking, he’ll shut it down. If the scientists say shut it down, he’ll shut it down. No, we’re not shutting anything down. … My plan will crush the virus and we’re doing it. We’re rounding the third. We’re rounding the turn.” — Trump at a rally attended by a crowd estimated in the thousands outside an airport in Jacksonville, Florida.
Sept. 25: “[W]e did a hell of a job. And they’ll compare us to Europe and we did very well. But now that Europe is exploding again, they don’t want to talk about it.” — Trump at a rally attended by a crowd estimated to be in the thousands outside an airport in Newport News, Virginia.
The U.S. confirmed case count tops 7 million.
Sept. 26: “Europe has had almost a 50% greater excess mortality rate than the United States. You don’t want to hear that, they don’t want to tell you that. … We will crush the virus.” — Trump at a rally attended by a crowd estimated at several thousand outside an airport hangar in Middletown, Pennsylvania. (He is wrong about the excess mortality comparison; see our story “Trump Touts Misleading and Flawed Excess Mortality Statistic.”)
Sept. 28: “And it’s important to remember that as younger and healthier people return to work, and as we massively increase testing capacity, we will identify more cases and asymptomatic individuals in low-risk populations. This should not cause undue alarm. The total number of cases is not the full metric of success.” — Trump in remarks at the White House.
Sept. 29: “And now we’re weeks away from a vaccine. We’re doing therapeutics already. Fewer people are dying when they get sick. Far fewer people are dying. We’ve done a great job.”
“When needed, I wear masks. I don’t have — I don’t wear masks like [Biden]. Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from — and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.” — Trump at the presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio.
Members of Trump’s family did not wear masks during the debate.
Editor’s Note: Please consider a donation to FactCheck.org. We do not accept advertising. We rely on grants and individual donations from people like you. Credit card donations may be made through our “Donate” page. If you prefer to give by check, send to: FactCheck.org, Annenberg Public Policy Center, 202 S. 36th St., Philadelphia, PA 19104.
This fact check is available at IFCN’s 2020 US Elections FactChat #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here for more.