Speaking at an ABC town hall event, Trump repeated his claim that the virus was going away.
“It’s probably gonna go away now a lot faster because of the vaccine,” he said. “It would go away without the vaccine.”
Host George Stephanopoulos seemed incredulous by that comment.
“It would go away without the vaccine?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“Sure,” Trump replied. “Over a period of time. Sure, with time.”
“And many deaths,” Stephanopoulos said.
“You’ll develop like a herd mentality,” Trump explained. “It’s gonna be herd-developed and that’s gonna happen.”
Pres. Trump says COVID-19 will go away even without a vaccine in part because of ... “herd mentality.” pic.twitter.com/PhrU06GJJo
— The Recount (@therecount) September 16, 2020
Herd mentality is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the tendency of the people in a group to think and behave in ways that conform with others in the group rather than as individuals.”
Herd immunity is when enough people are immune to a virus that it’s no longer able to effectively spread. It can happen either from a vaccine or from so many people getting sick that the virus runs out of people to infect.
Last month, The Washington Post estimated that a herd immunity strategy without a vaccine would lead to nearly 3 million deaths in the United States.
Twitter users were stunned by both Trump’s inability to tell the difference as well as the idea that the president may be entertaining herd immunity as a public health strategy:
This is the key point. Everyone on Twitter is mocking Trump's misstatement ("herd mentality" v "herd immunity"). That's a goof.
But if Trump's strategy is to simply let the virus "run its course," that could mean 2m deaths in the next 12 months. That's the real headline. https://t.co/RxeTWUMDfl
— Ronald Klain (@RonaldKlain) September 16, 2020
You mean herd immunity?
That's what you're pursuing for us as a country, and you don't even know what it is?
And you think it might be the same thing as herd mentality? pic.twitter.com/9anh7OUZnq
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) September 16, 2020
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) September 16, 2020
“You’re going to develop, like, a herd mentality”
— Arlen Parsa (@arlenparsa) September 16, 2020
What is “herd mentality”? Just asking.
— Valerie Jarrett (@ValerieJarrett) September 16, 2020
America. You are in danger, girl. pic.twitter.com/CMedwTRfCE
— gregarious (@mistergeezy) September 16, 2020
At the town hall, Trump just said “herd mentality” when he meant “herd immunity.” But in Trumpland the former is so prevalent you can almost excuse Trump’s apparent cognitive decline.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) September 16, 2020
Donald Trump battles the English language in an attempt to let voters know he now supports herd immunity (3 million US deaths) as the solution to COVID:
“You’re going to develop, you’re going to develop herd mentality; it’s going to be, going to be herd developed.” https://t.co/vJVp0kcyFF
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) September 16, 2020
— Reed Galen (@reedgalen) September 16, 2020
It's hard to have much faith in our President's ability to fight COVID when he calls his alleged strategy "herd mentality", not herd immunity. Shocking incompetence.
— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) September 16, 2020
.@realDonaldTrump says tonight @ABC the coronavirus will disappear, will go away, even without a vaccine it will go away over time “you’ll develop like a herd mentality, it’s going to be herd developed”...says “we’re rounding the corner” Contrary to what Dr Fauci told me Friday.
— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) September 16, 2020
— Dr. Jack Brown (@DrGJackBrown) September 16, 2020
Sweaty and confused, Trump says that the virus will go away with a "herd mentality".
I don't want to hear one more fucking word about Joe Biden's mental fitness for office.
Not one.#TrumpIsNotWell #TrumpTownHall
— Holly Figueroa O'Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) September 16, 2020
A HuffPost Guide To Coronavirus
What should you still be disinfecting to preventCOVID-19?
Is it possible you had coronavirusearlier this year?
How can you manage your anxietyas coronavirus restrictions lift?
Here’s the latest on how long COVID-19 antibodieslast.
How will COVID-19 change your office?
Laid off and lost your health insurance? You have options.
Everything you need to know about face masks right now.
Find all our coronavirus coverage here.
Everyone deserves accurate information about COVID-19. Support journalism without a paywall — and keep it free for everyone — by becoming a HuffPost member today.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.