After several weeks of denying that the coronavirus was a problem or a threat, Trump admitted yesterday that the virus would probably kill between 100,000-240,000 people. That’s supposedly the “best case” scenario. If government fails to act effectively to test people and provide supplies for healthcare professionals, the death toll could be as high as 2 million people.

Here is timeline of Trump’s remarks about the coronavirus, compiled by teacher Glen Brown. Brown describes Trump’s behavior as “dangerous ignorance.” Trump has openly displayed his contempt for facts, science, expertise. His “gut” is the source of his wisdom, in addition to his genetic relationship to an uncle who taught at MIT and whose brains Trump absorbed by osmosis. Brown is a teacher, a poet, and a musician. Compare his timeline to the one created by the Washington Post.I think Brown’s context offers a fuller portrait of Trump’s dangerous ignorance.

Here is a timeline of Trump’s remarks about the coronavirus, compiled by the Washington Post (I don’t see the reference to the day when he said everyone should plan to go to church on Easter Sunday and pack the pews):


https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/politics/trump-coronavirus-statements/?utm_campaign=wp_to_your_health&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_tyh&wpmk=1

From ‘It’s going to disappear’ to ‘WE WILL WIN THIS WAR’

How the president’s response to the coronavirus has changed since January

As the coronavirus began to spread across the United States, President Trump repeatedly insisted that it was nothing to worry about. Two months later, the United States became the first country in the world with more than 100,000 cases, the economy has ground to a near standstill, and the virus has killed more than 1,000 people in New York state alone.

As cases increased and stocks tumbled, the president’s attitude toward the threat of covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has evolved from casual dismissal to reluctant acknowledgment to bellicose mobilization. Below, we trace the winding path of the president’s response to the virus, in his own words.

“It’s going to disappear.”

News conference, Feb. 28

Photo illustration of Trump with speech bubble saying, ‘It’s going to disappear.’
January through early March

Dismissing the threat

In the early days of the virus’s spread in the United States, Trump repeatedly emphasized that everything was “under control” and that the virus would just “disappear” in warmer months. Meanwhile, the coronavirus was steadily spreading in Singapore, where average temperatures are similar to summer in the United States.

“I think the 3.4 percent [fatality rate] is really a false number.”

Fox News interview, March 4

Photo illustration of Trump with speech bubble saying, ‘I think the 3.4 percent [fatality rate] is really a false number.’
Recognizing the spread, downplaying the risk

The World Health Organization warned early on that the global risk was high. Multiple states soon started reporting cases of community transmission, suggesting that containment was becoming more and more unlikely. Schools in Seattle began to close as one of the earliest serious outbreaks started to erupt in Washington state.

As February turned to March, the first deaths were announced and cases continued to climb. Trump began to acknowledge the virus’s spread in the United States but dismissed the potential danger to the public at large.

News conference, March 16

“We have an invisible enemy.”

Photo illustration of Trump with speech bubble saying, ‘We have an invisible enemy.’
Acknowledging the severity of the pandemic

The same week the WHO declared covid-19 a pandemic, the situation in the United States became more fraught. Stock markets continued to rapidly decline, and the U.S. death count began to double every few days. Businesses from the National Basketball Association to Disney canceled or postponed events. Cities worldwide asked their residents to quarantine at home and practice social distancing.

Amid this backdrop, Trump shifted his tone and tried to paint himself as having taken the virus seriously from the start. By March 14, he had declared a national emergency and backtracked on many of his earlier remarks.

Photo illustration of Trump with speech bubble saying, ‘Our country wasn’t built to be shut down.’
“Our country wasn’t built to be shut down.”

News conference, March 23

Pivoting to focus on the economy

Even with new guidelines from the White House and more federal efforts to combat the pandemic, both confirmed cases and deaths continued to rise exponentially.

However, after stock markets closed at their lowest point since Trump’s second week in office, he once again changed the focus of his efforts. As health experts continued to urge the public to limit face-to-face interactions, the president lamented how these restrictions prevented economic growth.

By late March, a record 3.3 million Americans would file for unemployment. The unemployment rate would rise to 5.5 percent, a level not seen since 2015.

“We’re going to have a great victory.”

News conference, March 30

Photo illustration of Trump with speech bubble saying, ‘We’re going to have a great victory.’
End of March, heading into April

Adopting the rhetoric of war

Trump’s statements indicating that he hoped to scale back coronavirus restrictions to revive the economy alarmed public health experts and many elected leaders. Experts warned that these restrictions would need to stay in place much longer to avoid more deaths. Medical workers also expressed alarm at the prospect of overwhelmed emergency rooms.

As cases continued to increase, Trump expressed doubt about New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s plea for 30,000 more ventilators to care for the influx of patients expected to flood hospitals. Yet by Sunday, Trump seemed to acknowledge the improbability of quickly reopening the economy, declaring that the Easter deadline was “just an aspiration” and announcing that he would extend federal guidance on social distancing through April.

As March came to a close, Trump began to embrace the image of himself as the leader of a country at war. He first referred to himself as a “wartime president” on March 19. In recent days, Trump has increasingly adopted wartime rhetoric to describe his attitude toward the pandemic.

Over the weekend, Anthony S. Fauci, one of the nation’s top infectious disease experts and a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, warned that between 100,000 and 200,000 Americans could die and that millions would be infected. The president said on Sunday that the country would be doing well if it “can hold” the number of deaths “down to 100,000.”

Deborah Birx, another member of the task force, offered her own grim assessment: “No state, no metro area, will be spared.”