As of March 27, reported US cases of COVID-19 surpassed every other country in the world. Our rate of growth of cases is higher too.

This is a record of the role President Donald Trump played in bringing this about. I plan on keeping it up-to-date with the most significant facts; please feel free to send any (or any corrections) along to me at @CodingItWrong or virus[at]codingitwrong[dot]com.

Did “nobody see this coming?” No, there’s plenty that the Trump administration could have done to better prepare. [Summary by NY Times]

  • 2018: a CDC conference warned of not being prepared for the possibility of a future pandemic [link]
  • 2018: the Trump administration disbanded the National Security Council pandemic unit. [link]
  • Sep 2019: White House economists published a study about the devastating death toll and economic effect of a pandemic. [link]
  • Oct 2019: The results of a pandemic simulation run by the Trump administration showed that the US was unprepared for such an event [link]
  • Dec 2019: China informed the World Health Organization about the coronavirus; the CDC was informed on January 3 at the latest. [link]
  • Jan: The US and South Korea detected their first case on the same day, but South Korea is far ahead of the US on testing. [link]
  • Jan: the US was aware of containment measures China was already taking, but took no similar action. [link]
  • Jan 28: Elizabeth Warren issued a plan for dealing with the Coronavirus. [link]
  • Jan 29: Joe Biden warned Trump’s policies leave the US unprepared for the pandemic [link]
  • Jan and Feb: US intelligent reports warned about a likely pandemic. [link]
  • Feb 3: Army warned Trump administration that 150,000 could die from the coronavirus [link]

Trump actively downplayed the severity of the virus throughout February and March:

  • Feb 24: “Very much under control”. [link]
  • Feb 27: we have 15 people, within a few days it will be close to zero. [link]
  • Mar 4: denies WHO death rate, suggests it’s fine to go to work, compares to the flu. [link]
  • Mar 9: more die from the common flu annually. Nothing is shut down, life goes on. [link]
  • Mar 18: insists he always treated the coronavirus very seriously. [link]

Ridiculed journalists instead of answering their questions about the virus:

  • “Don’t be a cutie-pie.” [link]
  • “No one is talking about this except you, which doesn’t surprise me…I’m not hearing it.” [link]
  • “I say you’re a terrible reporter.” [link]

Treated the pandemic as reality TV:

  • Bragged about the ratings of the briefings. [link]
  • “Incredibly interesting…everybody is going crazy, they’re going crazy, they can’t get enough of it.” [link]

Gave medical advice to take unapproved hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin to treat COVID-19:

Suppresses criticism:

  • Interrupting White House meetings that challenge the facts as he sees them. [link]
  • Threatens news stations that criticize him. [link]
  • Issued cease and desist for playing an ad critical of Trump. [link]
  • Calling out governors for shortcomings on Twitter. [link]

Referred to the coronavirus as the “Chinese Virus,” racist language that puts Chinese people at risk of hate crimes:

Minimized the need for medical supplies, encouraged states to get them themselves, then outbid them, and conditioned giving supplies on governors “being appreciative” to Trump:

  • Suggests Cuomo exaggerating how many ventilators are needed. [link]
  • Refused to release a stockpile of 20,000 ventilators. [link]
  • Told governors to try to get medical equipment themselves. [link]
  • Followed up on this by the Trump administration buying the medical supplies themselves. [link]
  • Trump administration outbid states on medical equipment. [link]
  • “Be appreciative.” [link]
  • Refuses medical equipment to Michigan despite repeated respectful requests. [link]
  • White House admits allocating aid based on which states matter to Trump’s re-election. [link]