President Donald Trump continued to downplay Covid-19 days after testing positive for the virus Tuesday, saying on Twitter that the country should learn “to live with” the coronavirus and falsely likening it to the flu even as his doctor warns the president is “not out of the woods” for the coronavirus yet.
Trump tweeted that “flu season is coming up” and said the U.S. does not “close down our country” despite flu deaths, “just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!”
Trump frequently downplayed Covid-19 by likening it to the flu in the early days of the pandemic, even as he privately acknowledged to journalist Bob Woodward that Covid-19 was “more deadly than even your strenuous flu.”
Trump falsely claimed Tuesday that the flu “sometimes” kills more than 100,000 people every year, when in actuality the flu typically kills far fewer Americans each year, including 22,000 U.S. deaths in the 2019-2020 flu season, 34,200 deaths in 2018-2019 and 61,000 deaths in 2017-2018.
The flu did result in approximately 100,000 U.S. deaths in 1968 and 116,000 in 1957-1958—but Covid-19, which has so far killed 209,199 people in the U.S., has resulted in more U.S. deaths than any flu season since 1918-1919.
Trump, who announced early Friday morning that he tested positive for Covid-19, has been downplaying the severity of the disease in recent days as his illness has continued, drawing widespread criticism from medical experts and Democrats for returning Monday to the White House from Walter Reed Medical Center and telling Americans, “Don’t be afraid of Covid.”
Facebook has removed the president’s message for spreading misinformation about Covid-19, and Twitter has hidden the post and labeled it as “violat[ing] the Twitter Rules about spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19.”
23%. That’s the percentage of Americans who say that Trump’s positive Covid-19 diagnosis would actually make them even less likely to trust Trump to provide accurate information about Covid-19, according to an Axios/Ipsos poll released Tuesday. 17% say the diagnosis would make it more likely for them to trust Trump, while 60% reported no change.
Trump’s positive Covid-19 diagnosis comes after the president had publicly downplayed the coronavirus for months, holding large, in-person rallies and public events and refusing to wear a mask on most occasions while repeatedly encouraging the country to reopen and life to get back to normal. As a result, many Americans have blamed the president contracting Covid-19 on his behavior, with a recent Ipsos poll finding that 65% of respondents believe Trump may not have been infected with the virus if he had taken Covid-19 “more seriously.”
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Though the president has reported feeling better after reportedly experiencing more serious symptoms on Friday and Saturday, his physician, Dr. Sean P. Conley, acknowledged Monday that Trump was not “out of the woods yet” when it comes to the coronavirus. Other patients with Covid-19 have experienced instances in which symptoms have suddenly worsened after initially appearing to improve, and days five through 10 after falling ill with Covid-19 are considered to be critical in determining the ultimate trajectory of the illness.