The president once said the pandemic “miraculously goes away” in April. 

BY LUKE DARBYApril 1, 2020

“We have it totally under control,” Donald Trump said about the coronavirus in late January, adding, “It’s just one person from China.” In a call with Republican senators, he said confidently, “Just stay calm. It will go away.” At a February news conference, he predicted, “One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.” At a rally in New Hampshire, Trump was even more precise, saying, “Looks like by April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away.” The president occasionally tempered his placid attitude with some real-world action, like when he ordered travel restrictions after coronavirus was already established in several states—a move that some public health experts have called “remarkably pointless.”

As of the first day of April, the outbreak has not “miraculously gone away.” According to Johns Hopkins, the U.S. has 189,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, on track to double the number of cases in the second worst hit country, Italy. There have been 4,081 confirmed deaths, with 850 of those coming on Tuesday, the biggest single day death toll yet for America. United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said the pandemic is “the most challenging crisis” the world has faced since World War II.

When Trump delivered his Tuesday press briefing on the outbreak, he was unusually serious. “I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead,” he said, adding, “This could be a hell of a bad two weeks. This is going to be three weeks like we’ve never seen before.” He produced charts showing an estimated 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the U.S. “We lose more here potentially than you lose in world wars as a country,” Trump said.

Anthony Fauci, an infectious disease expert and member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, warned that the number of deaths will keep increasing for some time, even if social distancing is working: “In the next several days to a week or so, we’re going to continue to see things go up. We cannot be discouraged by that. Because the mitigation is actually working, and will work.” The New York Times noted that Trump showed “none of the carefree dismissiveness that characterized his reaction to the virus in February and early March.”

But Trump is also working a PR angle. At a briefing on Sunday, he admitted for the first time that the U.S. was facing at least 100,000 deaths, but he did it with a slightly more upbeat spin. “So you’re talking about 2.2 million deaths, 2.2 million people from this. And so if we could hold that down, as we’re saying, to 100,000. It’s a horrible number, maybe even less —but to 100,000. So we have between 100,000 and 200,000, and we altogether have done a very good job,” he said.

He repeated that figure, 2.2 million people dead, 16 times in that one Sunday briefing. That’s the total death toll that the U.S. would be facing if absolutely no mitigation efforts were in place, according to a mid-March report from the U.K.’s Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team. While Trump is trying to pitch 100,000 deaths as “a very good job,” he’s comparing it to the 2.2 million estimated deaths that would come from the U.S. doing nothing—not exactly a high bar.

Trump isn’t the only Republican trying to downplay the severity of 100,000 to 200,000 deaths. In a Sunday op-ed for USA Today, Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson wrote that while dying a preventable death from COVID-19 is scary, it’s important “to put things into perspective.” That perspective is, we’re all going to die anyway: “Every premature death is a tragedy, but death is an unavoidable part of life.”



4月1日の時点で、集団発生は「奇跡的に消え去った」わけではありません。ジョンズホプキンスによると、米国189,000件の確認されたコロナウイルス症例があり、2番目に被害の大きい国であるイタリアでの症例数は2倍になる見込みです。 4,081人の死亡が確認されており、そのうち850人が火曜日に来ており、これはアメリカで最大の1日死者数です。国連事務総長のアントニオ・グテレスは、パンデミックは第二次世界大戦以来世界が直面している「最も困難な危機」であると述べました。

トランプ氏が火曜日の発生についてプレスブリーフィングを行ったとき、彼は異常に深刻でした。 「これからの厳しい日のために、すべてのアメリカ人に備えてもらいたい」と彼は付け加え、「これは悪い2週間の地獄になるかもしれない。これまで見たことのないような3週間になるだろう」と付け加えた。彼は米国で推定10万人から24万人の死亡を示すチャートを作成しました。 「私たちは、国としての世界大戦で失うよりも、潜在的にここでより多くを失う」とトランプは言った。


しかし、トランプは広報活動にも取り組んでいます。日曜日のブリーフィングで、彼は初めて米国が少なくとも10万人の死に直面していたが、彼はもう少し明るいスピンでそれをやった。 「つまり、あなたは約220万人の死、220万人の死者について話しています。つまり、私たちが言っているように、それを10万人に抑えることができるとしたら、それは恐ろしい数です。 10万人から20万人の間で、私たちは全体として非常に良い仕事をしました」と彼は言った。


トランプ氏は、10万人から20万人の死の深刻さを軽視しようとしている唯一の共和党員ではありません。 USA Todayの日曜日の特集記事で、ウィスコンシン州上院議員のロンジョンソンは、COVID-19による予防可能な死を招くのは恐ろしい一方で、「物事を展望する」ことが重要であると書いています。その見方は、私たち全員がとにかく死ぬつもりだということです:「すべての時期尚早の死は悲劇ですが、死は避けられない人生の一部です」。

But the problem facing the country isn’t a philosophical acceptance of the concept of mortality—it’s that Trump seems more concerned with saving face than saving lives. While many states are struggling to meet the demand for both tests and life-saving equipment like ventilators, Trump has alternated between blaming the shortages on others and pretending the shortages don’t exist. And when the federal government has tried to get supplies to states, it’s badly botched the deliveries—Oklahoma, for example, requested 16,000 face shields and received 120,000; North Carolina requested 500,000 medical coveralls and received 306. According to the Associated Press, many hospitals are reviewing their own guidelines to know which patients to prioritize when, not if, it becomes impossible to save them all—the kinds of decisions Italian doctors were making weeks before.

Since the pandemic reached the U.S., Trump has claimed often that “nobody” could have predicted the outbreak could be this bad, and that it “came out of nowhere.” But infectious diseases experts have been warning about pandemic preparedness for years, and the American response to it has been particularly disastrous and negligent, from disbanding the White House global health outbreak unit in 2018 to not having a backup plan for testing kits (which failed at first). Trump was warned repeatedly by his own public health officials that the coronavirus threat was serious. Ignoring the problem has failed, so now the president wants credit for responding to it at all.