Trump again touts good news on COVID: It's going away by itself. (Someday. He hopes.)

Christopher Wilson
·Senior Writer

On the day the United States recorded more than 50,000 new coronavirus infections for the first time, a figure that Dr. Anthony Fauci warned could double this summer, President Trump repeated what he has been saying about the pandemic ever since it began: That it would just go away by itself.

“I think we’re gonna be very good with the coronavirus,” Trump said in an interview with Fox Business on Wednesday. “I think that at some point that’s going to sort of just disappear, I hope.”

“You still believe so?” Trump was asked by the interviewer.

“I do, I do,” replied the president. “Yeah, sure, at some point — and I think we’re going to have a vaccine very soon too.”

The United States has had more COVID-19 cases and deaths than any other country in the world by far, with more than 128,000 fatalities, double the next highest total (according to Johns Hopkins University tracking), and nearly 2.7 million cases. But from the beginning, Trump has insisted the coronavirus was nothing to worry about, leading the government to take a laggard, passive approach toward testing, contract tracing and isolation. 

Below are just some of the instances when Trump downplayed the pandemic, in which 50,203 new cases were reported Wednesday, the most ever in the U.S. on a single day.

Jan. 22

“We have it totally under control,” Trump said, adding, “It’s one person coming in from China. We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”

Feb. 10

“Now, the virus that we’re talking about having to do — you know, a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat — as the heat comes in,” said Trump at a meeting with some of the nation’s governors. “Typically, that will go away in April. ... We have 12 cases — 11 cases, and many of them are in good shape now.”

“Looks like by April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away. I hope that’s true,” he repeated at a campaign rally in New Hampshire that night. 

Influenza typically follows that seasonal pattern. But the coronavirus is not the flu, and so far, warmer weather has not seemed to hinder its spread. 

Feb. 24

“The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA,” Trump said in a tweet. “We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”

The next day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell nearly 1,000 points, to close at 27,081, and White House National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow said on CNBC, “We have contained this, I won’t say airtight but pretty close to airtight.”

On Wednesday, July 1, the Dow closed at 25,734. 

Feb. 26

During a briefing on the virus, Trump said the case total would zero out soon, congratulating himself on the administration’s progress. 

“Again, when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.”

Feb. 27

“We have done an incredible job,” Trump said at the White House. “We’re going to continue. It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear. And from our shores, we — you know, it could get worse before it gets better. It could maybe go away. We’ll see what happens. Nobody really knows. The fact is, the greatest experts — I’ve spoken to them all. Nobody really knows.”

A week later, touring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Trump downplayed the need to consult with experts, pronouncing himself an authority on the subject: “People are really surprised I understand this stuff,” he said. “Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability.”

President Trump at a press briefing on Thursday. (Michael Reynolds/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
President Trump at a press briefing on Thursday. (Michael Reynolds/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

March 30

“It will go away,” Trump said at a coronavirus briefing. “You know it — you know it is going away, and it will go away. And we’re going to have a great victory. … I want to have our country be calm and strong, and fight and win, and it will go away.”

March 31

“It’s going to go away, hopefully at the end of the month. And, if not, hopefully it will be soon after that,” Trump said at a task force briefing.

April 3

“It is going to go away,” Trump said when asked about his earlier prediction. “I said it’s going away, and it is going away.”

On that day the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. was about 276,000.

April 28

“Today the U.S. hit a grim milestone of 1 million cases of the coronavirus,” CNN’s Jim Acosta said. “Back in late February, you predicted that the number of cases would go down to zero. How did we get from your prediction of zero to 1 million?”

“Well, it will go down to zero, ultimately,” said Trump, likely correct in the technical sense.

April 29

At a briefing, Trump was asked how he was sure the worst of the pandemic was behind the United States.

“Well, I think that like other things, we’re going to, hopefully, we’re going to come up with a vaccine, you never know about a vaccine, but tremendous progress has been made,” the president replied. “Johnson & Johnson and Oxford and lots of good things, you’ve been hearing the same things as I do. Tremendous progress has been made, we think, on a vaccine. You always have to say ‘think,’ and then you have to test it, and that takes a period of time. But, uh, a lot of movement and a lot of progress has been made on a vaccine.

“But I think what happens is it’s going to go away,” he continued. “This is going to go away. And whether it comes back in a modified form in the fall, we’ll be able to handle it, we’ll be able to put out spurts, and we’re very prepared to handle it. We’ve learned a lot, we’ve learned a lot about it, the invisible enemy.”

May 8 

“I feel about vaccines like I feel about tests: This is going to go away without a vaccine,” Trump said at the White House. “It’s going to go away, and we’re not going to see it again, hopefully, after a period of time.

“They say it’s going to go — that doesn’t mean this year — doesn’t mean it’s going to be gone, frankly, by fall or after the fall,” he continued. “But eventually it’s going to go away. The question is will we need a vaccine. At some point it’s going to probably go away by itself. If we had a vaccine, that would be very helpful.”

June 16

During an executive order signing at the White House, Trump said a vaccine would be helpful but not necessary to see the virus disappear.

“I always say, even without it, it goes away,” Trump said. “But if we had the vaccine — and we will — if we had therapeutic, or cure — one thing sort of blends into the other — it will be a fantastic day.  And I think that’s going to happen, and it’s going to happen very soon.”

June 23

“It’s going away,” said Trump at an event in Arizona, which saw a record high for deaths from the virus just over a week later.

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