Archives for category: Trump

You know how politicians like to use international test scores to bash our public schools? Here’s good reason to bash the politicians in D.C.

Teresa Hanafin of the Boston Globe writes:

The expected numbers of American deaths from the coronavirus unveiled by the administration yesterday was pretty shocking — 100,000 to 240,000 — although those numbers have been floating around among scientists, researchers, and epidemiologists for awhile now.

But for Trump to allow his task force doctors to reveal those numbers publicly was remarkable, and a sign that it has finally dawned on him that he’s is presiding over a devastating epidemic.

It’s beyond sad to contemplate how low those numbers could have been, and how many lives could have been saved, had Trump listened to the experts instead of being contemptuously dismissive for weeks.

Had he seized control of the situation and kicked the feds into high gear with an aggressive, comprehensive, and nationwide approach, we wouldn’t be talking about World War II-level deaths.

That’s what South Korea did, a country that reported its first case on the same day as the US: Jan. 20. South Korea immediately convened officials from 20 medical companies and ordered them to start producing tests.

As tests were approved, the government opened hundreds of drive-through testing sites. The tests were free to anyone who wanted one, with results within hours. Test kits were supplied to hospitals and clinics as well.

Within seven weeks, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had tested about 300,000 people out of a population of 51 million.

In the same time period, the United States tested only 60,000 people in a population of 330 million.

That’s how community spread happens: When you don’t know who has the virus, you can’t stop it from spreading. At a certain point, the virus outruns you, and you can do nothing but keep scrambling to catch up. That’s where we are.

Face masks were readily available to South Koreans in local pharmacies, with each person allowed two per week. In the US, even frontline medical workers are rationing and reusing face masks.

Another factor: South Korea’s national health care system, under which nobody has to worry that they’ll get a lower quality health care than somebody richer than them, hospitals don’t have to fret about low reimbursements when they treat the poor, and people don’t have to worry about being driven into medical bankruptcy as so many Americans are.

In the US, Trump’s sustained attacks on Obamacare means that millions more Americans are uninsured than when he took office. Now, of course, those uninsured Americans are desperate to enroll, but in an act of what Democrats say is simply utter cruelty, Trump is refusing to reopen the federal exchange so that the uninsured can obtain insurance before they or someone in their family, God forbid, contracts the virus.

Fortunately, some governors have reopened their state exchanges, so if you live in a state with Democratic leadership, you could be in luck.

The bottom line:

The US has close to 200,000 cases, about .06 percent of the population, and 4,400 deaths, a rate of 2.2 percent. (That rate has increased, not declined, as more cases are uncovered.)

South Korea has 9,900 cases, about .02 percent of its population, and 165 deaths, a rate of 1.7 percent.

By late February, South Korea was getting about 900 new cases a day. Today, it’s about 100. In contrast, the number of new cases in the US is still soaring.

While the trajectory of South Korean cases has declined, the US trajectory is solidly pointing upward, increasing at the fastest rate in the world.

It didn’t have to be this way.

Now that Trump cannot hold mass pep rallies for his base, he is holding daily press briefings to share his opinions about the coronavirus. He frequently contradicts the government experts because he knows more than they do.

Robert Shepard, polymath extraordinaire, has written his own version of a Trump briefing:

Moronavirus trumpinski orangii Press Briefing and Campaign Rally, Sunday, March 23, 2020

TRUMP (snorts some Adderall and steps to the podium): OK, I wanted to start by saying some people are blaming this thing on Asian Americans. Where would they get that idea? Terrible, just terrible, OK? Don’t do that. Good people, Asians. The Asians love me. They love Donald Trump. We’re going to get through this Chinavirus. We’ll get through this.

This is going to be bad. Really bad. People are going to die. Am I right? Terrible. All those people. That’s why we need to lift the restrictions immediately and go back to work like normal. Can’t let the cure be worse than the disease. We need the economy working. People going to eat in Trump restaurants. Going to Karaoke at Trump private clubs. Staying in Trump hotels. Playing at golf Trump courses. People call me, they say, when you going to open those up again? Everybody agrees. You got people can’t even make reservations. Can’t even go on safari now to kill the last remaining animal of some species. Disgraceful. That’s why–the doctors agree with me–we should open everything up again now. Because this thing is going to spread. Spread like crazy. We open up, it goes away? OK? Chinavirus. I’ll make a decision about this early this coming week, after my new Adderall comes in.

Doctors will agree with me. Because I’m smart. A genius, really. Somebody said the death rate. The death rate from this thing. Is like, what was that? Like point zero zero zero zero zero zero one percent. Right Dr. Birx?

DR. BIRX: Well, it was about 3 percent in China, but we really don’t know.

TRUMP: See? Like I said. Point zero zero zero zero zero zero one percent. Obama ever get numbers like that? So, we lift these restrictions and get back to work. Because that’s what Americans do. They like to work under unsafe conditions for very low pay. And maybe die. So some people can get richer. I know, I’m a construction guy. Chinavirus. This is going to be bad. That’s why I’m making a decision. A decision next week. Open back up. Pick up a Sharpie, draw a circle around the country on a map. No Chinavirus! Two, three days, it’s gone. Magic! It’s like magic, am I right? I know. You’ll thank me.

So, we’re working hard, right now on a package. A stimulus package. No one ever liked Obama’s package. I have the best package. Get the economy humming again. Quickly. Very quickly. Best economy ever. You won’t believe it how quick. Let me tell you the great things. We’re doing great things. The best things, OK?

Steve Munchkin gets 500 billion to give away. It’s like free money, right? To Trump businesses, to members of the great Mar-a-lago resort. You know, to all those who desperately need it. Would you like to say a few words about that, Steve?

STEVE MUNCHKIN (in Lederhosen):

I represent the Oligarch Guild,
The Oligarch Guild, the Oligarch Guild,
And in the name of the Oligarch Guild,
I wish to welcome you to Grifterland.
All citizens are marks in Grifterland.

And the airlines and the cruise industry. They need billions and billions too. And the banks. Other corporations. Because they are sitting on only about a trillion dollars offshore right now. Hard. It’s hit them hard. So we’re going to send checks. Twelve dollars to every poor, hardworking, white, Christian American so they can pay their rent and utilities and feed their children and maybe buy a new car and go on a trip to the Trump International Hotel and Golf Club in Ireland. Because that’s the kind of people we are. We put the American people first. America first, OK? Not like the Fake News Media and the Democrats. Lots of people are going to die. So, we need to open up immediately. Makes sense, right? I have a knack of this kind of thing. I really do. My uncle was like this super genius at MIT. Open back up. Have some Trump steaks. Play a little golf. Maybe go back to the hotel. And speaking of hotel rooms, everything’s going to be golden.

In this time of national crisis, the Trump administration announced that it was lowering federal fuel economy standards.

This move reverses many years of efforts to fight air pollution.

People with emphysema, asthma, and other lung conditions, already at risk for coronavirus, will suffer even more risk as the air is dirtied by emissions from cars and trucks.

This change to lower standards may satisfy the fossil fuel industry and some in the transportation industry, at least those who put profits above lives, but it is a deadly blow to public health.

It is a curious time to take steps to further endanger public health and poison the air we breathe.

Is there a bottom to the heartlessness of the Trump administration and its callous indifference to our lives?

This is a multiple-choice test, with a possible essay at the end.

Trump lashed out at Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer because:

1. She did not praise him enough.

2. She is a woman.

3. Trump hates strong women.

4. Other (write your own guess after reading the following Document-Based Information.)

President Donald Trump has lashed out at several Democratic governors who are responding to the coronavirus crisis, but his harshest words have been reserved for Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer.

Trump said Thursday he had a “big problem” with the “young, a woman governor” in Michigan, complaining that “all she does is sit there and blame the federal government.” On Friday, he said that he told Vice President Mike Pence, “don’t call the woman in Michigan,” and later referred to her as “Gretchen ‘Half’ Whitmer” in a tweet and said she is “way in over her head” and “doesn’t have a clue.”

Those attacks — and her direct response to them — have thrust the first-term governor further into the national spotlight as she manages her state’s efforts to slow the pandemic’s spread, which includes seeking assistance from the Trump administration. Whitmer now finds herself among other Democratic governors, like Washington state’s Jay Inslee and New York’s Andrew Cuomo, who are navigating the deepening public health crisis in their states while also confronting the President’s demand for public praise and appreciation.

Whitmer responded to Trump’s Thursday attacks in a tweet that included a hand-waving emoji, writing, “Hi, my name is Gretchen Whitmer, and that governor is me.”

“I’ve asked repeatedly and respectfully for help. We need it. No more political attacks, just PPEs, ventilators, N95 masks, test kits. You said you stand with Michigan — prove it,” she wrote.

Trump continues to view the coronavirus pandemic through the lens of the stock market and his need to pump up his prospects for re-election. He briefly listened to scientists and medical experts but reverted to his usual stance of catering to his base, praising himself, and demonizing his critics. He now thinks he can talk his way out of a public health emergency.

Yale psychiatry Bandy Lee says that the COVID-19 epidemic brings out the worst in Trump. He can’t control it, but he can pretend to control it. That’s enough for his rabid base.

Asmany of America’s and the world’s leading mental health experts have repeatedly warned, Trump is mentally unwell to the extreme. He has publicly and repeatedly shown that he is a malignant narcissist, a pathological liar and a delusional fabulist. He is detached from reality and appears to live in his own fantasy world. His lack of empathy, care and concern for others can reasonably be described as sociopathic.

The coronavirus pandemic is one of the greatest threats to public health — and perhaps even modern human civilization — of the last century. Many millions of people may directly die from the virus in the United States and around the world. The global economy is collapsing into a state that may be worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s. To defeat the coronavirus will require patient and wise leadership based on facts, reason, and expertise. Because the coronavirus is a public health crisis it is a problem of science and empirical knowledge. It cannot be wished away or prayed away or eliminated through other forms of magical thinking.

For many reasons, including his mental health, overall temperament, values and intelligence, Donald Trump is existentially ill-equipped to handle this emergency and defeat the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Bandy Lee is perhaps the leading voice among those who have warned the American people and the world that Donald Trump’s presidency would result in disaster. She is a professor of psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine and editor of the bestselling book “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.”

In our most recent conversation, Lee contended that explains the pressures of the coronavirus pandemic are making Donald Trump’s various mental pathologies worse and more dangerous. She explained her view that Trump, aided by Fox News and other parts of the right-wing echo chamber, is creating a collective state of mental illness among his cult members that is making the coronavirus even more lethal.

As she has done before, Lee argued that Donald Trump is the most dangerous person on the planet and expressed her concern he may use the coronavirus pandemic to start or inflame mass violence in order to keep himself in power permanently.

Read the rest of the interview.

The Daily Howler covers the media. In this post, it points to the daily dose of propaganda meant to distract and impress the public, when the government is in fact lying. The lying is facilitated by media protocols that encourage deference to the authorities. That’s why you seldom see a White House reporter say simply, “but that’s not true” or “that’s not what you said last week.”

Consider the way Commander Trump, and the media suits, have brought us our own North Korea.

If we were the rational animal, everyone would have realized, long ago, that something seems to be badly wrong with Commander Trump. Everyone would have taken the unfortunate measure of such statements as this:
“You have 15 people, and the 15, within a couple of days, is going to be close to zero.”
The commander said that on February 26. Yesterday, one month later, the actual number was at least 82,000. It was likely much greater than that.

In a rational world, it would have clear, a long time ago, that something was and is wrong with our bold commander.

There may be an issue of mental health. There may be an issue of cognitive impairment. There may be illness and impairment. But this would have been clear long ago.

In a rational world, rational people would have discussed these obvious possibilities. In our world, press corps elites declared that we mustn’t conduct such discussions.

We can finally taste the fruits of such conduct. We’ve ended up, all this week, watching North Korean TV.

What happens in North Korean TV? In our version of the system, useless elites find the craziest person in the society and put him on prime-time TV. They do it day after day after day.

The cases of coronavirus in the U.S. passed 100,000 in Friday, the most of any country in the world. But don’t worry. It’s all under control. The craziest person in our society said so.

This evening the New York Times published a story about a Trump’s repeated lies, boasts, and ignorance about the pandemic. The story did not include a Trump’s assertion yesterday on the Sean Hannity show that governors were inflating their need for ventilators, followed by orders to GM and Ford to start producing ventilators. One day he proclaims there is no crisis. The next day he responds to the crisis. Confusion? Distraction? Ignorance?

Linda Qiu writes:

Hours after the United States became the nation with the largest number of reported coronavirus cases on Thursday, President Trump appeared on Fox News and expressed doubt about shortages of medical supplies, boasted about the country’s testing capacity, and criticized his predecessor’s response to an earlier outbreak of a different disease.

“I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators,” he said, alluding to a request by Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York. . The president made the statement in spite of government reports predicting shortages in a severe pandemic — and he reversed course on Friday morning, calling for urgent steps to produce more ventilators.

Speaking on Fox on Thursday, Mr. Trump suggested wrongly that because of his early travel restrictions on China, “a lot of the people decided to go to Italy instead” — though Italy had issued a more wide-ranging ban on travel from China and done so earlier than the United States. And at a White House briefing on Friday, he wrongly said he was the “first one” to impose restrictions on China. North Korea, for one, imposed restrictions 10 days before the United States.

He misleadingly claimed again on Friday that “we’ve tested now more than anybody.” In terms of raw numbers, the United States has tested more people for the coronavirus than Italy and South Korea but still lags behind in tests per capita.

And he continued to falsely claim that the Obama administration “acted very, very late” during the H1N1 epidemic in 2009 and 2010.

These falsehoods, like dozens of others from the president since January, demonstrate some core tenets of how Mr. Trump has tried to spin his response to the coronavirus epidemic to his advantage. Here’s an overview.

Playing down the severity of the pandemic

When the first case of the virus was reported in the United States in January, Mr. Trump dismissed it as “one person coming in from China.” He said the situation was “under control” and “it’s going to be just fine” — despite a top official from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention telling the public to “expect more cases.”

No matter how much the count of cases has grown, Mr. Trump has characterized it as low.

“We have very little problem in this country” with five cases, he said in late January.

More live coverage: Markets U.S. New York
He maintained the same dismissive tone on March 5, as the number of cases had grown by a factor of 25. “Only 129 cases,” he wrote on Twitter.

A day later, he falsely claimed that this was “lower than just about” any other country. (A number of developed countries like Australia, Britain and Canada as well as populous India had fewer reported cases at that point.)

By March 12, when the tally had again increased tenfold to over 1,200, the president argued that too was “very few cases” compared to other countries.

He has also misleadingly suggested numerous times that the coronavirus is no worse than the flu, saying on Friday, “You call it germ, you can call it a flu. You can call it a virus. You can call it many different names. I’m not sure anybody knows what it is.”

The mortality rate for coronavirus, however, is 10 times that of the flu and no vaccine or cure exists yet for the coronavirus.

In conflating the flu and the coronavirus, Mr. Trump repeatedly emphasized the annual number of deaths from the flu, and occasionally inflated his estimates. When he first made the comparison in February, he talked of flu deaths from “25,000 to 69,000.” In March, he cited a figure “as high as 100,000” in 1990.

The actual figure for the 1990 flu season was 33,000, and in the past decade, the flu has killed an estimated 12,000 to 61,000 thousand people each flu season in the United States. That’s so far higher than the death count for the virus in the United States, but below projections from the Centers for Disease and Prevention, which estimated that deaths from Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, could range from 200,000 to 1.7 million. As of Friday evening, more than 1,200 deaths in the United States have been linked to the coronavirus.

On the flip side, Mr. Trump inflated the mortality and infection rates of other deadly diseases as if to emphasize that the coronavirus pales in comparison. “The level of death with Ebola,” according to Mr. Trump, “was a virtual 100 percent.” (The average fatality rate is around 50 percent.) During the 1918 flu pandemic, “you had a 50/50 chance or very close of dying,” he said on Tuesday. (Estimates for the fatality rate for the 1918 flu are far below that.)

This week, as cities and states began locking down, stock markets tumbled and jobless claims hit record levels, Mr. Trump again played down the impact of the pandemic and said, with no evidence and contrary to available research, that a recession would be deadlier than the coronavirus.

Overstating potential treatments and policies

The president has also dispensed a steady stream of optimism when discussing countermeasures against the virus.

From later February to early March, Mr. Trump repeatedly promised that a vaccine would be available “relatively soon” despite being told by public health officials and pharmaceutical executives that the process would take 12 to 18 months. Later, he promoted treatments that were still unproven against the virus, and suggested that they were “approved” and available though they were not.

Outside of medical interventions, Mr. Trump has exaggerated his own policies and the contributions of the private sector in fighting the outbreak. For example, he imprecisely described a website developed by a company affiliated with Google, wrongly said that insurers were covering the cost of treatment for Covid-19 when they only agreed to waive co-payments for testing, and prematurely declared that automakers were making ventilators “right now.”

Often, he has touted his complete “shut down” or “closing” of the United States to visitors from affected countries (in some cases leading to confusion and chaos). But the restrictions he has imposed on travel from China, Iran and 26 countries in Europe do not amount to a ban or closure of the borders. Those restrictions do not apply to American citizens, permanent residents, their immediate families, or flight crews.

Not only were these restrictions total and absolute in Mr. Trump’s telling, they were also imposed on China “against the advice of a lot of professionals, and we turned out to be right.” His health and human services secretary, however, has previously said that the restrictions were imposed on the recommendations of career health officials. The Times has also reported that Mr. Trump was skeptical before deciding to back the restrictions at the urging of some aides.

Blaming others

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent test kits to states in February, some of which were flawed and produced inconclusive readings. Problems continued to grow as scientists and state officials warned about restrictions on who could be tested and the availability of tests overall. Facing criticism over testing and medical supplies, Mr. Trump instead shifted responsibility to a variety of others.

It was the Obama administration that “made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we’re doing,” he said on March 4. This was a misleading reference to draft guidance issued in 2014 on regulating laboratory-developed tests, one that was never finalized or enforceable. A law enacted in 2004 created the process and requirements for receiving authorization to use unapproved testing products in health emergencies.

The test distributed by the World Health Organization was never offered to the United States and was “a bad test,” according to Mr. Trump. It’s true that the United States typically designs and manufactures its own diagnostics, but there is no evidence that the W.H.O. test was unreliable.

As for the shortage of ventilators cited by Mr. Cuomo, Mr. Trump has misleadingly said that the governor declined to address the issue in 2015 when he “had the chance to buy, in 2015, 16,000 ventilators at a very low price and he turned it down.”

A 2015 report establishing New York’s guidelines on ventilator allocation estimated that, in the event of a pandemic on the scale of the 1918 flu, the state would “likely have a shortfall of 15,783 ventilators during peak demand.” But the report did not actually recommend increasing the stockpile and noted that purchasing more was not a cure-all solution as there would not be enough trained health care workers to operate them.

Rewriting history

Since the severity of the pandemic became apparent, the president has defended his earlier claims through false statements and revisionism.

He has denied saying things he said. Pressed on Tuesday about his pronouncements in March that testing was “perfect,” Mr. Trump said he had been simply referring to the conversation he had in July with the president of Ukraine that ultimately led to the House impeaching him. In fact, he had said “the tests are all perfect” like the phone call.

He has compared his government’s response to the current coronavirus pandemic (“one of the best”) favorably to the Obama administration’s response to the H1N1 epidemic of 2009 to 2010 (“a full scale disaster”). In doing so, Mr. Trump has falsely claimed that former President Barack Obama did not declare the epidemic an emergency until thousands had died (a public health emergency was declared days before the first reported death in the United States) and falsely said the previous administration “didn’t do testing” (they did).

At times, Mr. Trump has marveled at the scale of the pandemic, arguing that “nobody would ever believe a thing like that’s possible” and that it “snuck up on us.”

There have been a number of warnings about both a generic worldwide pandemic and the coronavirus specifically. A 2019 government report said that “the United States and the world will remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or large scale outbreak of a contagious disease.” A simulation conducted last year by the Department of Health and Human Services modeled an outbreak of a rapidly spreading virus. And top government officials began sounding the alarms about the coronavirus in early January.

Despite his history of false and misleading remarks, Mr. Trump has also asserted, “I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”

A story in the Washington Post today. Trump’s lies could kill many people because scientists are not believed.

In the one month since the first U.S. coronavirus death, America has become a country of uncertainty.
New cases of infection and casualties continue multiplying. New York and Louisiana hospitals are grappling with a flood of patients that threatens to overwhelm their health-care systems. Meanwhile, the president and political conservatives are increasingly agitating to end drastic restrictions meant to buy time and save lives.
Running beneath it all, in a continuous loop through our national psyche, are basic questions leaders are struggling to answer: When can we safely lift these quarantines? How many people could die if we do it too early? Just how dangerous will this pandemic turn out to be? And what exactly should be our next step?
This is why epidemiology exists. Its practitioners use math and scientific principles to understand disease, project its consequences, and figure out ways to survive and overcome it. Their models are not meant to be crystal balls predicting exact numbers or dates. They forecast how diseases will spread under different conditions. And their models allow policymakers to foresee challenges, understand trend lines and make the best decisions for the public good.

But one factor many modelers failed to predict was how politicized their work would become in the era of President Trump, and how that in turn could affect their models.
In recent days, a growing contingent of Trump supporters have pushed the narrative that health experts are part of a deep-state plot to hurt Trump’s reelection efforts by damaging the economy and keeping the United States shut down as long as possible. Trump himself pushed this idea in the early days of the outbreak, calling warnings on coronavirus a kind of “hoax” meant to undermine him.

The notion is deeply troubling, say leading health experts, because what the country does next and how many people die depend largely on what evidence U.S. leaders and the public use to inform their decisions. Epidemiologists worry their research — intended to avert massive deaths in situations exactly like this pandemic — will be dismissed by federal leaders when it is needed most.

George Packer writes in The Atlantic about Trump’s success in destroying the institutions and norms of the federal government and bending them to his will. It is a brilliant and disturbing article. Trump calls the apolitical civil service “the deep state.” He is determined to destroy it and replace it with loyalists and lackies. This article echoes the themes of Michael Lewis’s The Fifth Risk, about Trump’s deliberate dismantling of three federal departments—energy, agriculture, and commerce, by leaving hundreds of positions unfilled and/or staffing them with people determined to destroy the organization and its mission (think Betsy DeVos).

Packer writes:

When Donald Trump came into office, there was a sense that he would be outmatched by the vast government he had just inherited.

The new president was impetuous, bottomlessly ignorant, almost chemically inattentive, while the bureaucrats were seasoned, shrewd, protective of themselves and their institutions. They knew where the levers of power lay and how to use them or prevent the president from doing so. Trump’s White House was chaotic and vicious, unlike anything in American history, but it didn’t really matter as long as “the adults” were there to wait out the president’s impulses and deflect his worst ideas and discreetly pocket destructive orders lying around on his desk.

After three years, the adults have all left the room—saying just about nothing on their way out to alert the country to the peril—while Trump is still there.

James Baker, the former general counsel of the FBI, and a target of Trump’s rage against the state, acknowledges that many government officials, not excluding himself, went into the administration convinced “that they are either smarter than the president, or that they can hold their own against the president, or that they can protect the institution against the president because they understand the rules and regulations and how it’s supposed to work, and that they will be able to defend the institution that they love or served in previously against what they perceive to be, I will say neutrally, the inappropriate actions of the president. And I think they are fooling themselves. They’re fooling themselves. He’s light-years ahead of them.”

The adults were too sophisticated to see Trump’s special political talents—his instinct for every adversary’s weakness, his fanatical devotion to himself, his knack for imposing his will, his sheer staying power. They also failed to appreciate the advanced decay of the Republican Party, which by 2016 was far gone in a nihilistic pursuit of power at all costs. They didn’t grasp the readiness of large numbers of Americans to accept, even relish, Trump’s contempt for democratic norms and basic decency. It took the arrival of such a leader to reveal how many things that had always seemed engraved in monumental stone turned out to depend on those flimsy norms, and how much the norms depended on public opinion. Their vanishing exposed the real power of the presidency. Legal precedent could be deleted with a keystroke; law enforcement’s independence from the White House was optional; the separation of powers turned out to be a gentleman’s agreement; transparent lies were more potent than solid facts. None of this was clear to the political class until Trump became president.

The main reason that the U.S. was unprepared to respond promptly to the coronavirus was that Trump repeatedly told the public that it was not a problem, that it would disappear spontaneously, and that it was under control. None of this was true. Even now, almost half of Republicans do not believe that the virus is a genuine public health problem. Now, we are learning that there are real life-and-death consequences attached to electing a vain and ignorant narcissist the the presidency.

New York Times columnist David Leonhardt catalogued the evolution of Trump’s views and statements to the public.

He wrote:

President Trump made his first public comments about the coronavirus on Jan. 22, in a television interview from Davos with CNBC’s Joe Kernen. The first American case had been announced the day before, and Kernen asked Trump, “Are there worries about a pandemic at this point?”

The president responded: “No. Not at all. And we have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”

By this point, the seriousness of the virus was becoming clearer. It had spread from China to four other countries. China was starting to take drastic measures and was on the verge of closing off the city of Wuhan.

In the weeks that followed, Trump faced a series of choices. He could have taken aggressive measures to slow the spread of the virus. He could have insisted that the United States ramp up efforts to produce test kits. He could have emphasized the risks that the virus presented and urged Americans to take precautions if they had reason to believe they were sick. He could have used the powers of the presidency to reduce the number of people who would ultimately get sick.

He did none of those things.

I’ve reviewed all of his public statements and actions on coronavirus over the last two months, and they show a president who put almost no priority on public health. Trump’s priorities were different: Making the virus sound like a minor nuisance. Exaggerating his administration’s response. Blaming foreigners and, anachronistically, the Obama administration. Claiming incorrectly that the situation was improving. Trying to cheer up stock market investors. (It was fitting that his first public comments were from Davos and on CNBC.)

Now that the severity of the virus is undeniable, Trump is already trying to present an alternate history of the last two months. Below are the facts — a timeline of what the president was saying, alongside statements from public-health experts as well as data on the virus.

Late January

On the same day that Trump was dismissing the risks on CNBC, Tom Frieden, who ran the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for eight years, wrote an op-ed for the health care publication Stat. In it, Frieden warned that the virus would continue spreading. “We need to learn — and fast — about how it spreads,” he wrote.

It was one of many such warnings from prominent experts in late January. Many focused on the need to expand the capacity to test for the virus. In a Wall Street Journal article titled, “Act Now to Prevent an American Epidemic,” Luciana Borio and Scott Gottlieb — both former Trump administration officials — wrote:

If public-health authorities don’t interrupt the spread soon, the virus could infect many thousands more around the globe, disrupt air travel, overwhelm health care systems, and, worst of all, claim more lives. The good news: There’s still an opening to prevent a grim outcome. … But authorities can’t act quickly without a test that can diagnose the condition rapidly.
Trump, however, repeatedly told Americans that there was no reason to worry. On Jan. 24, he tweeted, “It will all work out well.” On Jan. 28, he retweeted a headline from One America News, an outlet with a history of spreading false conspiracy theories: “Johnson & Johnson to create coronavirus vaccine.” On Jan. 30, during a speech in Michigan, he said: “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.”

That same day, the World Health Organization declared coronavirus to be a “public-health emergency of international concern.” It announced 7,818 confirmed cases around the world.

Jan. 31

Trump took his only early, aggressive action against the virus on Jan. 31: He barred most foreigners who had recently visited China from entering the United States. It was a good move.

But it was only one modest move, not the sweeping solution that Trump portrayed it to be. It didn’t apply to Americans who had been traveling in China, for example. And while it generated some criticism from Democrats, it wasn’t nearly as unpopular as Trump has since suggested. Two days after announcing the policy, Trump went on Fox News and exaggerated the impact in an interview with Sean Hannity.

“Coronavirus,” Hannity said. “How concerned are you?”

Trump replied: “Well, we pretty much shut it down coming in from China. We have a tremendous relationship with China, which is a very positive thing. Getting along with China, getting along with Russia, getting along with these countries.”

By the time of that interview, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases around the world had surged to 14,557, a near doubling over the previous three days.

Early February

On Feb. 5, the C.D.C. began shipping coronavirus test kits to laboratories around the country. But the tests suffered from a technical flaw and didn’t produce reliable results, labs discovered.

The technical problems were understandable: Creating a new virus test is not easy. What’s less understandable, experts say, is why the Trump administration officials were so lax about finding a work-around, even as other countries were creating reliable tests.

The Trump administration could have begun to use a functioning test from the World Health Organization, but didn’t. It could have removed regulations that prevented private hospitals and labs from quickly developing their own tests, but didn’t. The inaction meant that the United States fell behind South Korea, Singapore and China in fighting the virus. “We just twiddled our thumbs as the coronavirus waltzed in,” William Hanage, a Harvard epidemiologist, wrote.

Trump, for his part, spent these first weeks of February telling Americans that the problem was going away. On Feb. 10, he repeatedly said — in a speech to governors, at a campaign rally and in an interview with Trish Regan of Fox Business — that warm spring weather could kill the virus. “Looks like by April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away,” he told the rally.

On Feb. 19, he told a Phoenix television station, “I think the numbers are going to get progressively better as we go along.” Four days later, he pronounced the situation “very much under control,” and added: “We had 12, at one point. And now they’ve gotten very much better. Many of them are fully recovered.”

His message was clear: Coronavirus is a small problem, and it is getting smaller. In truth, the shortage of testing meant that the country didn’t know how bad the problem was. All of the available indicators suggested it was getting worse, rapidly.

On Feb. 23, the World Health Organization announced that the virus was in 30 countries, with 78,811 confirmed cases, a more than fivefold increase over the previous three weeks.

Late February

Trump seemed largely uninterested in the global virus statistics during this period, but there were other indicators — stock-market indexes — that mattered a lot to him. And by the last week of February, those market indexes were falling.

The president reacted by adding a new element to his public remarks. He began blaming others.

He criticized CNN and MSNBC for “panicking markets.” He said at a South Carolina rally — falsely — that “the Democrat policy of open borders” had brought the virus into the country. He lashed out at “Do Nothing Democrat comrades.” He tweeted about “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer,” mocking Schumer for arguing that Trump should be more aggressive in fighting the virus. The next week, Trump would blame an Obama administration regulation for slowing the production of test kits. There was no truth to the charge.

Throughout late February, Trump also continued to claim the situation was improving. On Feb. 26, he said: “We’re going down, not up. We’re going very substantially down, not up.” On Feb. 27, he predicted: “It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.” On Feb. 29, he said a vaccine would be available “very quickly” and “very rapidly” and praised his administration’s actions as “the most aggressive taken by any country.” None of these claims were true.

By the end of February, there were 85,403 confirmed cases, in 55 countries around the world.

Early March

Almost two decades ago, during George W. Bush’s presidency, the federal government developed guidelines for communicating during a public-health crisis. Among the core principles are “be first,” “be right,” “be credible,” “show respect” and “promote action.”

But the Trump administration’s response to coronavirus, as a Washington Post news story put it, is “breaking almost every rule in the book.”

The inconsistent and sometimes outright incorrect information coming from the White House has left Americans unsure of what, if anything, to do. By early March, experts already were arguing for aggressive measures to slow the virus’s spread and avoid overwhelming the medical system. The presidential bully pulpit could have focused people on the need to change their behavior in a way that no private citizen could have. Trump could have specifically encouraged older people — at most risk from the virus — to be careful. Once again, he chose not to take action.

Instead, he suggested on multiple occasions that the virus was less serious than the flu. “We’re talking about a much smaller range” of deaths than from the flu, he said on March 2. “It’s very mild,” he told Hannity on March 4. On March 7, he said, “I’m not concerned at all.” On March 10, he promised: “It will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.”

The first part of March was also when more people began to understand that the United States had fallen behind on testing, and Trump administration officials responded with untruths.

Alex Azar, the secretary of health and human services, told ABC, “There is no testing kit shortage, nor has there ever been.” Trump, while touring the C.D.C. on March 6, said, “Anybody that wants a test can get a test.”

That C.D.C. tour was a microcosm of Trump’s entire approach to the crisis. While speaking on camera, he made statements that were outright wrong, like the testing claim. He brought up issues that had nothing to do with the virus, like his impeachment. He made clear that he cared more about his image than about people’s well-being, by explaining that he favored leaving infected passengers on a cruise ship so they wouldn’t increase the official number of American cases. He also suggested that he knew as much as any scientist:

I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it. Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for president.
On March 10, the World Health Organization reported 113,702 cases of the virus in more than 100 countries.

Mid-March and beyond

On the night of March 11, Trump gave an Oval Office address meant to convey seriousness. It included some valuable advice, like the importance of hand-washing. But it also continued many of the old patterns of self-congratulation, blame-shifting and misinformation. Afterward, Trump aides corrected three different misstatements.

This pattern has continued in the days since the Oval Office address. Trump now seems to understand that coronavirus isn’t going away anytime soon. But he also seems to view it mostly as a public-relations emergency for himself rather than a public-health emergency for the country. On Sunday, he used his Twitter feed to lash out at Schumer and Joe Biden and to praise Michael Flynn, the former Trump aide who pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I.

Around the world, the official virus count has climbed above 142,000. In the United States, scientists expect that between tens of millions and 215 million Americans will ultimately be infected, and the death toll could range from the tens of thousands to 1.7 million.

At every point, experts have emphasized that the country could reduce those terrible numbers by taking action. And at almost every point, the president has ignored their advice and insisted, “It’s going to be just fine.”

[Susan Beachy and Ian Prasad Philbrick contributed research.]