US Presidential Countdown: Trump Denies Downsizing the Pandemic
President Donald Trump denied during a televised town hall Tuesday that he had played down the threat of the coronavirus earlier this year, although there is an audio recording of him stating he did just that.
At a televised event with voters, Mr Trump said he had “up-played” it.
The claim contradicts what Mr Trump told journalist Bob Woodward earlier this year that he minimised the virus’s severity to avoid panic.
Despite audio of his comments being released, Trump said: “Yeah, well, I didn’t downplay it. I actually, in many ways, I up-played it, in terms of action.”
Face-to-face with everyday voters for the first time in months, Trump was defensive but resisted agitation as he was pressed on his administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and why he doesn’t more aggressively promote the use of masks to reduce the spread of the disease.
“There are people that don’t think masks are good,” Trump said, though his own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly urges their use.
Trump also insisted he was not wrong when he praised China’s response to the virus in January and February, saying he trusted Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader. “He told me that it was under control, that everything was and it turned out to be not true,” Trump said,
Trump suggested the virus would disappear without a vaccine, claiming the nation would develop a herd immunity with time, but he didn’t mention the lives that would be lost along the way.
“It’s going to be herd-developed, and that’s going to happen. That will all happen,” Trump said. “But with a vaccine, I think it will go away very quickly.”
On the other hand, Mr Trump repeated that a vaccine could be ready “within weeks” despite scepticism from US health experts.
No vaccine has yet completed clinical trials, leading some scientists to fear politics rather than health and safety is driving the push for a vaccine before the 3 November presidential elections.
More than 195,000 people have died with Covid-19 in the US since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins university.
You might also be interested in: