Infected With Coronavirus, Trump Finds a Way to Make His COVID Lies Even Worse

The latest entry into the president’s coronavirus denial.

Ken Cedeno/ZUMA

The coronavirus is a rapidly developing news story, so some of the content in this article might be out of date. Check out our most recent coverage of the coronavirus crisis, and subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

President Donald Trump, clearly unchastened by his hospitalization for COVID-19, is back to comparing the virus to the flu. It’s the same, tired falsehood he’s clung to—at least publicly—since the start of the pandemic, as he seeks to downplay the deadly disease, discourage public health interventions, and project strength amid an increasingly imperiled reelection campaign. Except this time, Trump significantly escalated the death toll from the flu, falsely claiming that it is more lethal than the coronavirus in “most populations.”

Take a look at Tuesday’s tweet and one he fired off in March:

So, what’s changed between March and today? More than 200,000 deaths in the United States, an economic crisis, a White House outbreak that continues to unfold, and a newly infected president. The mortality rate from the flu, however, has not. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the estimated range of annual flu deaths in the United States over the past decade has been 12,000 to 61,000—well below Trump’s new figure of more than 100,000 people. What’s more, this isn’t even a straight comparison. The more than 200,000 deaths from COVID-19 have come despite widespread shutdowns, mask mandates, and social distancing campaigns—without these unprecedented measures, the death toll would presumably be far higher.

Trump actually knows all this. Back in February, he privately acknowledged to journalist Bod Woodward that COVID is “more deadly than even your strenuous flus.”A month later, Trump told Woodward, “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

Trump’s latest entry into his coronavirus denial comes a day after returned to the White House from Walter Reed Medical Center still contagious with the virus, defying public health guidance. “Don’t be afraid of COVID,” he tweeted. “Don’t let it dominate your life.”

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate