Claim: Several news outlets reported that Trump has repeatedly made public statements that COVID-19 was going to go away or disappear as the number of infected cases and deaths in the US increased.
Rating: This claim is TRUE. We reviewed a handful of news reports and confirmed that Trump told the public more than 30 times that COVID-19 was going away.
Several news agencies collected and reported the number of times Trump downplayed the pandemic, especially after the release of private recordings of Trump admitting that he intentionally downplayed the effects of COVID-19 to the public. We wanted to examine if their reporting was accurate.
We reviewed reporting from four different news agencies. We confirmed their reporting as accurate by reviewing and verifying their sources. We reviewed reports from The Washington Post (33 instances of downplaying), Rolling Stone (22 instances of downplaying), The Guardian (7 instances of downplaying), and Newsweek. All four reports detailed how Trump downplayed the virus as the total number of COVID-19 cases in the US and deaths have increased, which we also verified as true through data provided through The New York Times and The Atlantic’s Covid Tracking Project.
- Jan. 20: Just two days after the US identified its first coronavirus case, Trump told CNBC: “It’s one person coming in from China. We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”
- Feb. 26: By the time the US recorded 60 cases of infection, Trump said during a White House press briefing: “When you have 15 people … within a couple of days it’s going to be down to close to zero. That’s a pretty good job we’ve done.” On the following day, he said: “It’s going to disappear. One day – it’s like a miracle – it will disappear.”
- Mar. 10: When the US had 37 deaths and over 1,000 confirmed cases, Trump said during a press briefing: “We’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.”
- Apr. 29: When the US had its millionth positive test for coronavirus and was at over 57,000 deaths – claiming more American lives than the Vietnam War – Trump told reporters: “This is going away. It’s gonna go. It’s gonna leave. It’s gonna be gone. It’s going to be eradicated … If you have a flare-up in a certain area – I call them burning embers – boom, you put it out.”
- May 11: In a coronavirus briefing, Trump announced, “We have met the moment, and we have prevailed. Americans do whatever it takes to find solutions, pioneer breakthroughs, and harness the energies we need to achieve a total victory.”
- Jun. 17: Trump continued to say the disease would disappear as America reached two million COVID-19 cases and over 113,000 deaths. In a radio call to Fox News, he said: “It’s fading away. It’s going to fade away. But having a vaccine would be really nice.”
- Jul. 19: Fox News Sunday played back to Trump his many claims that the virus would disappear. Trump shot back: “I’ll be right eventually. It’s going to disappear, and I’ll be right.” The show’s host, Chris Wallace, asked Trump whether his insistence that the virus would vanish, even while it proliferated, would discredit him. “I don’t think so, you know why?” he replied. “Because I’ve been right probably more than anybody else.”
- Aug. 13: Trump insisted the coronavirus was “going away” in an interview, one day after the country reported its single-day record for COVID-19-related deaths since May. In an interview with Fox Business Network host Maria Bartiromo, Trump said, “We’re still in the pandemic, which will be going away, as I say. It’ll be going away and they scream, ‘How can you say that?'” Trump told Bartiromo, referring to his political opponents. “I said, ‘Because it’s going to be going away.’”
Conclusion: The news reports that Trump downplayed the virus by telling the public that COVID-19 was going away are TRUE. As of Sept. 11, America has around 6.4 million cases of COVID-19 and 192,517 deaths, which stand in stark contrast to Trump’s repeated promise that the disease would disappear under his leadership.