What the President Continues to Say (About the Plague)

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

In a previous piece in CounterPunch I compiled Donald Trump’s statements on the COVID-19 pandemic up to April 4th. Here is a continuation of that list.

Rather than place Trump’s statements in strict chronological order, I have sometimes put 2 or more of statements from different days together, to highlight Trump’s contradictions and subsequent deviations– these are prefaced by an asterisk. I have retained Trump’s numerous linguistic infelicities. It should be noted that Trump sometimes refers to himself in the third person:–

April 5– “We are very far down the line on vaccines, we’ll see how that all works. Johnson and Johnson’s doing a great job and working very hard, a vaccine would be great therapy. We’ll see what happens.”

April 5—(after promoting an untested malaria drug as a possible cure for coronavirus): “What do I know? I’m not a doctor.”

April 5—(again after promoting the untested malaria drug as a possible cure for coronavirus) “What do they have to lose?  We don’t have time to take a couple years to test it out.”

April 5—(asked by an AP reporter about the efficacy of the untested malaria drug as a possible cure for coronavirus) “You should be thanking them, not always asking wise guy questions.”

April 5–  “We see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully in the not-too-distant future we will be proud of the job we all did”.

April 5–  (about the Illinois governor, JB Pritzker, who has been critical of Trump) “The governor, he has not performed well.”

April 5–  (about Boris Johnson, who was admitted to hospital after previously being diagnosed with coronavirus) “I want to express our nation’s well wishes to Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he wages his own personal fight with the virus. All Americans are praying for him. He’s a friend of mine, he’s a great gentleman and a great leader, and as you know he went to the hospital today but I’m hopeful and sure that he’s going to be fine. He’s a strong man, a strong person.”

April 5– “I would wear a mask if I thought it was important.”

April 6— (regarding an inspector general report finding “severe” shortages of supplies at hospitals to fight the novel coronavirus)  “It’s just wrong.”

April 6— (when asked by a reporter about an inspector general report finding “severe” shortages of supplies at hospitals to fight the novel coronavirus) “You’re a third-rate reporter. And what you just said was a disgrace. You will never make it.”

April 6—(when asked by a reporter whether testing for the virus has been a success) “You should say congratulations, great job, instead of being so horrid.”

April 6— (when asked by a reporter about problems with the Paycheck Protection Program) “You ask it in such an unfair way.”

April 7—(on an inspector general report finding “severe” shortages of supplies at hospitals to fight the novel coronavirus) “Another Fake Dossier.”

April 7—“America continues to perform more tests than any other nation in the world, and I think that’s probably why we have more cases.” [The latest figures regarding testing per capita–  South Korea: 1 in 106 people, US: 1 in 174 people]

*April 8–  “We’re testing more than anybody” [The latest figures regarding testing per capita–  Germany: 1 in 90 people, South Korea: 1 in 113 people, US: 1 in 168 people]

*April 9—(about extensive COVID-19 testing)  “Do you need it? No. Is it a nice thing to do? Yes… We’re talking about 325 million people, and that’s not going to happen, [it] would never happen with anyone else, either.”

April 7– (on memos sent to him by one of his top trade advisers warning in January of the consequences of a potential pandemic) “I didn’t see the memo”.

April 8–  “People were shocked I acted so quickly. And everybody thought I was wrong because I did act so quickly as you know with respect to closing the borders.” [It was almost 6 weeks after the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in the US that the Trump administration moved to step-up coronavirus testing]

April 8–  “It looks like we’re in great shape from the bed standpoint. It looks like we’re in great shape from the ventilators standpoint.” [New England Journal of Medicine on March 25: “The national strategic reserve of ventilators is small and far from sufficient for the projected gap. No matter which estimate we use, there are not enough ventilators for patients with Covid-19 in the upcoming months.”]

April 8– “Once we OPEN UP OUR GREAT COUNTRY, and it will be sooner rather than later, the horror of the Invisible Enemy, except for those that sadly lost a family member or friend, must be quickly forgotten. Our Economy will BOOM, perhaps like never before!!!”

April 8—(on the World Health Organization)  “In many ways, they were wrong. They also minimized the threat very strongly.” [The WHO declared a “public health emergency of international concern” on January 30, a day before Trump banned non-American residents who had been to China from entering the US.]

April 9– “Well I think the economy is going to do very well. Now that’s just my feeling. It’s a strong feeling. I’ve had good, proper feelings about a lot of things over the years.”

April 9— “Because the “Ratings” of my News Conferences etc. are so high, “Bachelor finale, Monday Night Football type numbers” according to the @nytimes, the Lamestream Media is going CRAZY. “Trump is reaching too many people, we must stop him.” said one lunatic. See you at 5:00 P.M.!—–”

April 10— “I wish the world a happy Good Friday.”

April 10–  (on projected coronavirus deaths) “”The minimum number was 100,000 lives, and I think we’ll be substantially under that number. Hard to believe that if you had 60,000 [deaths] — you can never be happy. But that is a lot fewer than what we were originally told and thinking.”

April 10—  “You have to go back to the 1950’s where they had the big large dollar bills. Remember?” [journalists were puzzled by this remark.]

April 10– “I am very good at reading language.”

April 10– “We’re in great shape in every way. We’re in great shape with ventilators; we’re in great shape with protective clothing … we’re not getting any calls from governors at this moment.”

April 10– “We’ve done well and I guess the market thinks we’ve done well because we hit the biggest stock market increase…”

April 10—  (unaware that the COVID-19 is not a germ and therefore will not be affected by antibiotics) “The germ has gotten so brilliant that the antibiotic can’t keep up with it … there’s a whole genius to it … not only is it hidden, but it’s very smart.”

April 10— “I want to get [the economy] open as soon as we can. We have to get our country open.” [asked by a reporter what criteria he’ll use to decide when that’s appropriate, he points to his head.]

April 10— (tweeted on the day the US pandemic death toll reached 18,000, and the daily toll reached 2000 deaths for the first time) “Wow, Approval Rating in Republican Party—96%. Thank you.”

April 11— (when a reporter raised the issue of the reported shortage of medical supplies by asking “Do we have enough tests? No. Do we have enough PPE? No.”)  “Why would you say that? The answer is yes. I think the answer is yes…. A lot of it is fake news…. Well yeah, depending on your air they are always going to say that because otherwise, you are not going to put them on.”

April 12— (as the US hospital death toll passed 21,300, with over half-a-million confirmed cases) “For the first time in history there is a fully signed Presidential Disaster Declaration for all 50 States. We are winning, and will win, the war on the Invisible Enemy!”

April 13— “Sorry Fake News, it’s all on tape. I banned China long before people spoke up.” [Trump did not “ban China”, but blocked foreign nationals who had been in China in the past 14 days from entering the US starting on Feb. 2. Even so, 40,000 Americans and other authorized travelers have still come into the country from China since then.]

April 13— (when asked by a reporter what the administration did in February after putting in place the travel restrictions on China in January) “You know you’re a fake. You know that.”

April 13— ““When somebody is the President of the United States, the authority is total.”

April 13— “Everything we did was right.”

April 13– “…I saved tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of lives.”

April 14—(listing the names of companies and their CEOS who are working with the White House) “Coca-Cola, Pepsi Cola, Chick-Fil-A, Subway… Wendy’s, Waffle House, Wolfgang Puck.”

April 15— (about the government-funded Voice of America radio station)  “what things they say are disgusting toward our country.”

April 15– “We’ll be the comeback kids – all of us … Tomorrow’s going to be a very big day … We’ll have some openings that will exceed our expectations. And they’ll be safe, they’ll be strong, but we want to get our country back. We’re going to do it, and we’re gonna do it soon.”

April 16— “She [Nancy Pelosi] wanted everyone to pack into Chinatown long after I closed the BORDER TO CHINA. Based on her statement, she is responsible for many deaths. She’s an incompetent, third-rate politician!” [Pelosi visited Chinatown before there were any confirmed cases of coronavirus in San Francisco to help dispel racially-based fears about COVID-19 that had caused the neighbourhood’s businesses to see a drop in customers.]

April 16– “Think of it: they’re [China) are considered a developing nation … and we’re not. Well, we’re a developing nation, too, in my book, okay? We’re developing too.”

April 16—  “America wants to be open and Americans want to be open.” [a Pew research poll published today found that “Americans say their greater concern is that state governments will lift restrictions on public activity too quickly (66%) than not quickly enough (32%).”]

April 16–  “We’ve done the most advanced and robust testing of anywhere in the world.”  [However, some of the initial coronavirus tests sent out to states were seriously defective. Part of the problem came from the CDC shunning the WHO template for tests, and insisted on developing a more complicated version that correctly identified Covid-19, but also flagged other viruses – resulting in false positives. Other countries – after their first coronavirus case – swiftly developed their own tests. South Korea, which recorded its first case on the same day as the US, did so within a week. The US only allowed laboratories and hospitals to conduct their own tests on February 29, almost 6 weeks after the first case was confirmed.]

April 16— “People should have told us about this.” [recent memos reveal that Trump was warned at the end of January by one of his top White House advisers that COVID-19 could potentially kill hundreds of thousands of Americans and disrupt the US economy, unless action was taken immediately.]

April 16–  (on his gun-toting supporters who are ignoring the lockdown) “They seem to be protesters that like me and respect my opinion.”

April 17–  (on his gun-toting supporters who are ignoring the lockdown) “These are people expressing their views. I see where they are and I see the way they’re working. They seem to be very responsible people to me, but they’ve been treated a little bit rough.”

April 17– “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!”



*April 19— (When asked if he is inciting violence by encouraging people to liberate states) “They’ve got cabin fever. They want to get back. They want their life back. Their life was taken away from them. And you know, they learned a lot during this period. They learned to do things differently than they have in the past and they’ll do it hopefully until the virus has passed. And when the virus passes, I hope we’re going to be sitting next to each other at baseball games, football games, basketball games, ice hockey games. I hope we’re going to be sitting next to each other. The Masters is going to have 100,000 people, not 25 people watching at the course.”

* April 19— “You’re allowed to protest, some governors have gone too far.” [The governors in question were adhering to federal guidelines.]

7April 17—(at his daily press briefing) “I certainly hope we can have rallies… I don’t like rallies like this – where we’re sitting like you’re sitting now.”

April 18–  “We don’t have the-most-in-the-world deaths. The most in the world has to be China. It’s a massive country. It’s gone through a tremendous problem with this, a tremendous problem. And they must have the most.”

April 18—  “We had the greatest economy in the history of the world. Better than China, better than any country in the world, better than any country has ever had. We had the highest stock market in history by far – and I’m honored by the fact has started to up very substantially. That’s because the market is smart.”

April 18– “Unfortunately some partisan voices are attempting to politicize the issue of testing – because I inherited broken junk. Just as they did with ventilators where we had virtually none and the hospitals were empty. For the most part the hospitals didn’t have ventilators. We had take care of the whole country … and now the rest of the world is coming to us asking if we can help with ventilators because they’re very complicated, very expensive. They’re very hard to build. And we have them coming in by the thousand.” [There could be no test for the COVID-19 virus until it emerged.]

April 19– “Just like I was right on Ventilators (our Country is now the “King of Ventilators”, other countries are calling asking for help-we will!), I am right on testing. Governors must be able to step up and get the job done. We will be with you ALL THE WAY!” [Governors, both Democratic and Republican, describe Trump’s claim as “absolutely false” and delusional”.]

April 19— (On his move to restrict travel from China) “It could have been billions of people if we had not done what we did”. [The population of the US is 330 million.]

April 19–  (When asked why he is reading and showing clips full of praise for himself at a time when more than 22 million Americans are unemployed and more the 40,000 have died as a result of the coronavirus) “What I’m doing is I’m standing up for the men and women that have done such an incredible job. Nothing is about me. You’re never going to treat me fairly, many of you. And I understand that. I got here with the worst, most unfair press treatment they say in the history of the United States for a president. They did say Abraham Lincoln had very bad treatment, too.”

Kenneth Surin teaches at Duke University, North Carolina.  He lives in Blacksburg, Virginia.