Trump claimed 12 times that he inherited an old, broken, or obsolete coronavirus test from the previous administration.
In March, Trump initially made a debatable claim that he had inherited a flawed testing "system." By the final days of March and the first days of April, however, he was making a demonstrably inaccurate claim about inheriting the actual tests.
Facts First: The faulty initial test for the coronavirus was created during Trump's administration, in early 2020, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since this is a new virus that was first identified during Trump's presidency, tests couldn't possibly have been inherited as "broken" or "obsolete."
"He is lying. He is lying 100%. He is lying because he is trying to shift blame to others, even if the attempt is totally nonsensical," said Gregg Gonsalves, an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases at the Yale School of Public Health.
You can read a longer fact check here.
US testing versus the world's testing
Trump claimed 13 times that the US had done more coronavirus tests than the rest of the world combined or all other major countries combined.
Facts First: This claim was not true at any of the times Trump made it.
Trump initially made an accurate narrower claim, saying on April 19, while reading from a prepared text, that the US had done more tests than the combined total of France, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, India, Austria, Australia, Sweden, and Canada -- but then inflated it to the inaccurate claim that the US had done more tests than the entire world combined or all "major" countries combined. When you add in all of the dozens of countries that were not on Trump's initial list, including Spain, Germany, Russia, Brazil, Turkey, Portugal, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Belgium, New Zealand and the Netherlands, the world total has consistently been millions of tests higher than the US total.
It's true that the US had, as of mid-May, conducted more tests in total than any other single country, though it had not conducted the most per capita.
The bipartisan concern on testing
Asked why he saw the bipartisan outcry over testing as a personal attack, Trump said, "It's not bipartisan. It's mostly partisan." -- April 20 coronavirus briefing
Facts First: Concerns about testing were indeed bipartisan. The Republican governors of Ohio, Nebraska, Maryland and Massachusetts, Republican Senate health committee Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander and other Republicans had all spoken in the week prior to Trump's remarks about challenges obtaining testing materials or the need for more testing. Experts outside of government had emphasized that a major increase in testing is essential if the country is to safely lift social and economic restrictions.
Among the many people who had said that far more testing is needed for an optimal reopening of the country were Trump's own former FDA chief, Dr. Scott Gottlieb; professors at Harvard University and numerous other academic institutions; and corporate executives who directly conveyed their message to Trump on a phone call in April.
Experts had also been widely critical of the speed at which tests were initially deployed, saying that the US missed a chance to slow the spread of the virus.
Governors and testing, part 1
Trump claimed that governors "don't want to use all of the capacity that we've created" to test for the coronavirus. He said, of the existence of supposedly "tremendous" capacity, "They know that. The governors know that. The Democrat governors know that; they're the ones that are complaining." -- April 18 coronavirus briefing
Facts First: There was no evidence that any governor was deliberately not using available testing capacity; the White House said later that there was capacity that state and local leaders may not be aware of, which is different. And, again, it was not only Democratic governors who had spoken of problems and challenges with testing.
Governors and testing, part 2
"So we're doing tremendous testing. And ultimately, we're doing more testing, I think, than probably any of the governors even want." -- April 22 coronavirus briefing
Facts First: It's simply not true that more testing was being done than "any" governor even wants. There had been bipartisan calls from governors for the Trump administration to ramp up testing and give states the supplies they need to get it done.
An inspector general report
Asked about a report in which the office of the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services surveyed more than 300 hospitals and heard "the number one complaint from those hospitals were severe shortages of testing supplies and a really long wait time," Trump said, "Well, it's just wrong." He continued: "It's just wrong. Did I hear the word 'inspector general'? Really? It's wrong. And they'll talk to you about it. It's wrong." -- April 6 coronavirus briefing
Facts First: There is no evidence to suggest anything about the report is wrong, or that it was somehow politically motivated. The report was based on interviews conducted between March 23 and 27 with administrators at more than 300 hospitals across 46 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, DC. The report found hospitals faced testing shortages and longer than usual wait times for coronavirus test results.
The state of testing
Trump accused "very partisan voices" in the media and politics of spreading false information about testing capacity. He soon added, "The states have local points where they can go -- a governor can call the mayors, and the mayors can call representatives, and everybody -- everything is perfect. And that's the way it should work and always should work." -- April 17 coronavirus briefing
Facts First: Trump wasn't clear about what he was referring to, but it's just not true that everything was "perfect" with regard to testing. Numerous governors, including multiple Republicans, said after this Trump remark that they need more testing or that they're still struggling to obtain the testing materials they need. The list includes Republican governors from Ohio, Nebraska, Maryland, Massachusetts, South Dakota and Wyoming.
Tests for plane and train passengers
After he was asked at the April 1 coronavirus briefing whether he was considering a suspension of domestic flights or rail travel, Trump said, "Now, they're doing tests on airlines -- very strong tests -- for getting on, getting off. They're doing tests on trains -- getting on, getting off." Trump made similar claims about plane passengers in particular at briefings on April 4 and April 6.
Facts First: There was no evidence that plane and train passengers in the US were being widely tested for the coronavirus, let alone both when they get on and get off. Trump might have meant to refer to screening -- which involves questioning and sometimes temperature checks -- rather than actual testing, but major US airlines and rail company Amtrak were not doing screening, either. Some plane passengers were being subjected to government screening upon landing, but most passengers are not -- and this screening, unlike testing, cannot conclusively determine whether someone has the virus.
The stockpile of ventilators
In addition to his five general claims about how the Obama administration left him an "empty" shelf or cupboard of medical supplies, Trump five times made a specific claim that he was not left any ventilators. For example, he said April 29: "...we started off with nothing. We had nothing. We had absolutely nothing. And that included ventilators, and that included -- I always say the cupboards were bare."
Facts First: It's not true that the Trump administration was left no ventilators or entirely empty shelves of other supplies. While the exact number of ventilators in the national stockpile at the time of Trump's inauguration in 2017 is not known, one expert on respiratory care says thousands of ventilators were purchased for the stockpile during the Obama administration and were not used before Trump took office. In addition, journalists personally saw ventilators in the stockpile when they visited facilities in 2016, as FactCheck.org has noted. While the stockpile did have depleted stocks of some supplies like masks, there were significant stores of other items.
Richard Branson, a professor at the University of Cincinnati's medical school and editor of the medical journal Respiratory Care, told CNN that thousands of ventilators were purchased for the national stockpile between 2000 and 2016, including more than 14,000 under Obama. He said that the coronavirus crisis is the first time ventilators from the stockpile have had to be distributed, so it is clearly untrue that there was nothing left to Trump -- though he said some of the older ventilators have likely been removed from the stockpile in recent years. Branson said he could tell from the appearance of ventilator boxes shown being distributed during the coronavirus pandemic that they were the ventilators purchased for the stockpile under Obama.
You can read a fact check here about Trump's broader claim about empty shelves and cupboards.
Auto companies and ventilators
At a briefing on March 21, Trump said about automotive companies producing ventilators: "...General Motors, Ford, so many companies -- I had three calls yesterday directly. Without having to institute -- like, 'You will do this' -- these companies are making them right now."
At the briefing on April 2, he said, "And, in fact, that's why General Motors called up before -- (CEO) Mary (Barra). That's why others called up two days ago. They called up that they're all in production. And they'll start -- they're starting to arrive in a week and a half. But there'll be a time when we're going to build stockpiles."
Facts First: Ford and General Motors were not making ventilators at the moments Trump spoke on March 21 and April 2. They both began production later in April.
Ford spokesman Daniel Barbossa told CNN in May that actual production started the week of April 20.
Meanwhile, General Motors announced the day prior to Trump's March comment that it was "collaborating" with ventilator company Ventec to help Ventec increase production, but GM was also not producing ventilators yet; two days after Trump's claim, GM spokesperson Dan Flores told Reuters that "GM is exploring the feasibility to build ventilators for Ventec at a GM facility in Kokomo, Indiana."
GM began production on April 14, the company said.
Talk about ventilators
"And if you look, they were all saying, 'We need ventilators. We need...' You don't hear 'ventilators' anymore. They have all the ventilators they need, which we were right about. We said, 'You're asking for too many. You don't need that.'" And: "But nobody is asking for ventilators." -- April 13 coronavirus briefing
Facts First: While it's true that actual ventilator needs at the time Trump spoke were lower than the worst-case scenarios experts and governors had previously laid out, it wasn't true that "nobody" was asking for ventilators.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican who chairs the National Governors Association, both mentioned a need for ventilators on television a day prior to Trump's claim. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, said the day after Trump's claim that he was still working on getting more ventilators.
You can read a longer article here.
Warnings about ventilator needs
"And when we have thousands of ventilators -- it sounds like a lot, but this is a very unforeseen thing. Nobody ever thought of these numbers." -- March 18 coronavirus briefing
"Where you have a problem with ventilators, we're working very hard trying to find -- nobody in their wildest dreams would have ever thought that we'd need tens of thousands of ventilators. This is something that's very unique to this, to what happened." -- March 19 coronavirus briefing
"We're soon going to have more ventilators than we need. We're building thousands of ventilators right now. Now, it takes a period of time to build them. And again, nobody could have known a thing like this could happen." -- April 1 coronavirus briefing
Facts First: Medical experts and public health officials had said for years that the US would face a shortage of ventilators if there were ever a severe pandemic --- some specifically putting the number in the tens of thousands. For example, a study released in April 2015 by the NIH and CDC estimated that the US would likely need as many as 60,000 additional ventilators to deal with a severe flu pandemic scenario.
You can read a longer fact check here.
New York and ventilators, part 1
Trump, reading from a document that appeared to be an article from the right-wing website Gateway Pundit, said that the document said "New York Governor Cuomo rejected buying recommended 16,000 ventilators in 2015." Then, making a version of the claim himself, Trump said, "He had 16,000 ventilators that he could have had at a great price and he didn't buy them." -- March 24 Fox News "virtual town hall" event
Facts First: Cuomo did not reject a recommendation to buy 16,000 ventilators, nor was there a specific buying opportunity to purchase 16,000 ventilators at a low price. As FactCheck.org and PolitiFact explained, a 2015 New York state task force concluded that the state would likely face a shortfall of nearly 16,000 ventilators during the worst part of a hypothetical severe flu pandemic, but it did not make any purchase recommendation.
New York and ventilators, part 2
"So we sent thousands of ventilators to New York, and they didn't know about it at the time. They were complaining. Thousands. We had 2,000, and then 2,000, and then 4,000, and they were going there in large numbers. And then before that, we sent many thousands." -- March 27 coronavirus briefing
Facts First: There is no evidence that New York did not know ventilators had arrived from the federal government at the time Gov. Andrew Cuomo was demanding additional ventilators. "Not true," New York state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker told CNN's Chris Cuomo. "We knew the ventilators arrived -- and we need more ventilators. This is just the beginning of addressing the problem that we have." Zucker specified that a total of 4,000 ventilators had been received, not the 8,000 Trump suggested here.
You can read a longer fact check here.
A former General Motors plant
"General Motors MUST immediately open their stupidly abandoned Lordstown plant in Ohio, or some other plant, and START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!!" -- March 27 tweet
"I was extremely unhappy with Lordstown, Ohio, where they left Lordstown, Ohio, in the middle of an auto boom because we had 17 car companies coming in and then they were leaving one plant in Ohio...And, frankly, I think that would be a good place to build the ventilators, but we'll see. We'll see how that all works out." -- March 27 coronavirus briefing
Facts First: General Motors could not possibly open the Lordstown facility for ventilator production: it sold the plant in November 2019. Trump had applauded the potential sale in a tweet in May 2019.
Coronavirus and travel
Trump's travel restrictions on China
We counted 41 occasions during this period in which Trump claimed that he had imposed a "ban" on travel from China, closed the borders to China, or used similar phrasing, such as saying he "stopped China from coming in." (Trump emphasized his China policy as a defense against criticism that he failed to act in a variety of important ways in the first phase of the crisis.) He acknowledged on four of these 31 occasions that his supposed "ban" did not apply to US citizens, but otherwise framed the policy as a complete ban or complete border closure. For example, he said on March 18: "Well, I think we're doing a really good job. We started off with a termination of the border -- the people coming in from China, where this all started."
Facts First: Trump was exaggerating. The travel restriction policy his administration announced January 31, which took effect February 2, was not a complete ban on China or a total border closure. It prohibited most people who had been in China in the previous 14 days from entering the US, but it made significant exceptions -- for not only US citizens but permanent residents, many of the family members of citizens and permanent residents, and some other groups of people. The New York Times reported April 4 that nearly 40,000 people had flown to the US from China since the restrictions went into effect in early February.
People who did return from China were put through an enhanced screening process, and all travelers who had been in China's Hubei province in the two weeks prior to their return were subject to a mandatory quarantine of up to 14 days.
Trump's travel restrictions on Europe
Trump claimed 17 times to have banned travel from Europe. For example, he claimed March 31, "We stopped Europe. We stopped all of Europe." He said April 13 that he "did a ban on Europe."
Facts First: Trump was exaggerating or speaking too broadly. Trump never "stopped all of Europe" or imposed a complete "ban" on European nationals or people traveling from Europe. Rather, he imposed restrictions on travel from most European countries -- but exempted other European countries. And his restrictions did not apply to some people traveling from Europe: US citizens, permanent US residents, certain family members of both citizens and permanent residents, and some other groups of travelers.
Trump's restrictions initially applied to the 26 countries in the Schengen Area, a European zone in which people can move freely across internal borders without being subjected to border checks. Trump later added the United Kingdom and Ireland. That still left out some European countries, including Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Ukraine and Russia.
Trump's travel restrictions and Italy, part 1
Trump claimed March 26 that he imposed "a ban to Italy and especially certain areas in Italy" before imposing his broader travel restrictions on Europe. He made a similar claim March 31.
Facts First: Trump did not impose any travel ban or other restrictions on travel from Italy prior to imposing broader travel restrictions in March on travel from many European countries.
In February, the Trump administration issued a do-not-travel advisory, not a ban, against travel to specific Italian regions that were hit hard by the coronavirus. The administration also issued a lesser advisory to, "reconsider travel," for the rest of Italy. In addition to the fact that these advisories cannot force anyone to do anything, they did not apply to travel to the US from Italy.
Trump's travel restrictions and Italy, part 2
"Tragically, other nations put their trust in the WHO and they didn't do any form of ban. And you see what happened to Italy." -- April 15 coronavirus briefing
Facts First: Italy was not one of the countries that refrained from imposing travel restrictions on China; in fact, it did so before Trump did. On January 30, the day before Trump's administration announced its China restrictions, Italy's prime minister announced a ban on flights to and from China.
Other countries and travel restrictions on China
"So when you say that I wasn't prepared, I was the first one to do the ban. Now other countries are following what I did. But the media doesn't acknowledge that. They know it's true..." -- March 19 coronavirus briefing
"Well, you know, if I'm so good to China, how come I was the only person -- the only leader of a country that closed our borders tightly against China?" -- April 14 coronavirus briefing
Facts First: Trump was far from the only leader of a country to impose travel restrictions from China, and he was not the first. A Washington Post analysis found that 38 countries imposed significant travel restrictions on China "before or at the same time the U.S. restrictions were put in place." (The Post did not count 12 other countries "that took some sort of action before the United States but with measures that were not as sweeping.")
Moreover, Trump didn't completely shut the border to travel from China; his travel restrictions included exemptions for American citizens, permanent residents and many of the family members of citizens and permanent residents. Nearly 40,000 people traveled from China to the United States after he announced the restrictions, according to an April 4 New York Times analysis of data collected in both countries.
Asked about his musings the day prior about the possibility of people being injected with disinfectant to treat the coronavirus, Trump said, "No, I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you, just to see what would happen." He added, "That was done in the form of a sarcastic question to the reporters." When a reporter noted that he had asked his medical experts to look into it. Trump responded: "No, no, no, no -- to look into whether or not sun and disinfectant on the hands, but whether or not sun can help us." -- April 24 coronavirus briefing
Facts First: Trump was not being "sarcastic" when he raised the possibility of injecting disinfectant. There was simply no indication that he was being anything less than serious. He was also wrong when he denied he had asked the medical experts to "check" the idea of disinfectant injections; he was looking at them, not reporters, at the time.
You can read a full fact check here.
Another claim of "sarcasm"
Over three tweets, Trump repeated his familiar complaint about how reporters were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of the Trump-Russia story -- except, instead of the Pulitzer, Trump four times used the word "Noble," apparently misspelling "Nobel." Then, after he was mocked for these errors, he claimed he was being sarcastic.
"Does anybody get the meaning of what a so-called Noble (not Nobel) Prize is, especially as it pertains to Reporters and Journalists? Noble is defined as, 'having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals.' Does sarcasm ever work?" -- April 26 tweet
Facts First: Like his lie days before that he was being "sarcastic" when he mused about people injecting disinfectant, this is obvious nonsense. There was no indication he was being sarcastic in the tweets about the "Noble."
Trump's comment about China's transparency
After he criticized the World Health Organization for praising China's supposed transparency over the coronavirus, Trump was pressed about his own previous praise of China's supposed transparency. "I don't talk about China's transparency," he responded. -- April 14 coronavirus briefing
Facts First: Trump has explicitly praised China for "transparency" related to the virus. On January 24, he tweeted that "China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency," and that "In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!"
On March 21, Trump defended his initial claim that China had acted with transparency by arguing that "China was transparent at that time, but when we saw what happened, they could have been transparent much earlier than they were."
What Trump said was "perfect"
Question: "A month ago, the CDC had an initial test that failed. At that moment in late February, you said, 'It's perfect.' And it wasn't perfect. So what happened there in the early stages..."
Trump: "...What I said was perfect was my conversation with the head of the Ukraine. That's what I really said is perfect, okay?" -- March 24 Fox News "virtual town hall" event
Facts First: Trump said on March 6 both that the coronavirus testing situation was perfect and that his July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was perfect. He was inaccurately suggesting here that he had spoken only about the call.
Here's what he said on March 6: "But as of right now and yesterday, anybody that needs a test -- that's the important thing -- and the tests are all perfect, like the letter was perfect. The transcription was perfect, right? This was not as perfect as that, but pretty good."
Inaccurate Trump predictions
CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta asked Trump what he had to say to Americans who are upset with him for having repeatedly downplayed the virus in February and early March. Acosta read out a series of Trump quotes, including a February 23 remark in which Trump claimed the virus was "very much under control in this country" and a March 10 remark in which Trump said, "It will go away. Just stay calm, it will go away."
Trump responded, "If you look at those individual statements, they're all true: stay calm, it will go away. You know it is going away." -- March 30 coronavirus briefing
When a reporter noted that Trump had said the virus would go away by April, Trump said, "It is going to go away. It is going away." When he was reminded he said it would go away in April, he claimed, "I didn't say a date." He continued: "I said it's going away and it is going away." -- April 3 coronavirus briefing
And asked about his inaccurate February 26 prediction that the US would go from 15 coronavirus cases to 0 -- "When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to 0, that's a pretty good job we've done" -- Trump said, "Well, it will go down to zero, ultimately." After boasting about how much testing the US is doing, he continued, "And it will be -- at the appropriate time, it will be down to 0, like we said." -- April 28 exchange with reporters at Paycheck Protection Program event
Facts First: What actually happened after the first 15 confirmed cases is not at all like he said; Trump's February prediction was simply wrong. And the virus was clearly not "under control" in February -- nor was it under control in mid-March, when Trump made another version of the claim.
Trump suggested here the prediction was right because there will eventually come a time without new cases. But he hadn't said in February that the number of cases would climb past 1 million -- and past more than 57,000 deaths (at the time; it was more than 100,000 as of May 28) -- before it eventually reached 0.
Trump never said the virus would go away by one specific day, but he did say repeatedly in February that he believed the virus would go away by or in the month of April -- calling April "a beautiful date to look forward to." (He qualified some of these claims with phrases like "I hope," "supposedly" and "we're not sure yet.") Also, it's not true that the virus was "going away" at the time he defended his comments -- it was still is spreading widely. You can read a longer fact check here.
Trump's praise of China
When Acosta asked Trump about the fact that he had previously been complimentary of China's response to the virus and asked Trump what has changed since then, Trump invoked his trade negotiations with China. During the negotiations, Trump said, he was complimentary of China, though he was also sometimes not. But after he made the deal, he continued, "All of a sudden, we heard there's a virus, and a virus is coming in. That changes my mind very greatly. That's a whole different thing."
When another reporter followed up later in the event, Trump said, "Well, I'm making a trade deal with China. This was before the virus -- of course I'm going to be complimentary." He said that "the bottom line is, we ended up making a deal before the virus came, and I was very happy with the deal, but then later on, that was superseded by a virus that should not have happened." -- April 30 exchange with reporters at event on protecting seniors
Facts First: Trump's timeline was inaccurate. The President continued to compliment China's response to the virus after he signed the trade agreement on January 15, after the presence of the virus in the United States was confirmed on January 21 and after the agreement took effect on February 14.
For example, speaking to reporters on February 18, Trump said, "I think President Xi is working very hard" and "doing it very professionally." Asked if he trusted data coming from China, Trump praised Xi Jinping again: "Look, I know this: President Xi loves the people of China, he loves his country and he's doing a very good job with a very, very tough situation."
Speaking to reporters on February 23, Trump was asked if Xi should be doing anything differently in his handling of the crisis. He responded: "No, I think President Xi is working very, very hard. I spoke to him. He's working very hard. I think he's doing a very good job. It's a big problem. But President Xi loves his country. He's working very hard to solve the problem, and he will solve the problem. OK?"
You can read more here about Trump's previous praise of China and Xi over the virus.
What Trump said about governors and equipment
Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour, asked Trump about his previous comments about how governors don't actually need some of the equipment they had requested. As Alcindor attempted to finish her question, Trump interjected, "I didn't say that." Later, when she said she was quoting his interview with Fox News's Sean Hannity, he said, "Take a look at my interview." -- March 29 coronavirus briefing
Facts First: The transcript of the March 26 interview shows that Trump did say what he was denying he said. Trump told Hannity that "a lot of equipment's being asked for that I don't think they'll need," though he also emphasized his efforts to help the states, and said later in the interview that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was requesting an unnecessary number of ventilators. "I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they are going to be," Trump said. "I don't believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators."
What Trump said about his dealings with governors
CNN's Jeremy Diamond began a question to Trump as follows: "I'd also like to ask you about some comments you made on Friday. You were talking about governors of different states and you said, 'I want them to be appreciative.' You also said, 'if they don't treat you right, I don't call.'" After Diamond said the words "if they don't treat you right," Trump said, "But I didn't say that." When Diamond finished the sentence, Trump said "I didn't say that" once more. -- March 29 coronavirus briefing
Facts First: Trump did say what he claimed he didn't: "All I want them to do -- very simple -- I want them to be appreciative. I don't want them to say things that aren't true. I want them to be appreciative." As Diamond told Trump, Diamond was reading direct quotes from a previous Trump briefing.
Trump went on to argue to Diamond that he was being taken out of context, noting that in the previous briefing he had also said that he was speaking about governors having appreciation for other people, not himself; Trump had said in that previous briefing: "I'm not talking about me. I'm talking about Mike Pence, the task force; I'm talking about FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers." So Trump is within his rights to urge media outlets to play the full clip, but those additional comments do not change the fact that he had said exactly what Diamond said he did.
What Trump said about the WHO
Trump said at the April 7 coronavirus briefing that he planned to "look into" the US contribution to the World Health Organization, which he claimed had mishandled the coronavirus. Then, after continuing to criticize the WHO, he said, "We'll be looking into that very carefully. And we're going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO. We're going to put a very powerful hold on it and we're going to see."
Trump was asked about 16 minutes later whether a pandemic is a good time to freeze funding for WHO. He responded that he is not saying he is going to do that, merely that he will look. When another reporter interjected that Trump had indeed said he would freeze funding, Trump said, "No I didn't. I said we're going to look at it."
Facts First: Trump was denying something he had plainly said. Though he had originally announced he would look into US spending on the WHO, he then announced he would impose a "very powerful hold" on the spending.
What Dr. Deborah Birx said
Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, urged Americans not to have dinner parties and cocktail parties, saying that data on the growth of the pandemic in the United States showed that "not every American" was following social distancing guidelines. "I mean, I know you've seen the slope in the United States versus the slope in Italy. And we have to change that slope," she said.
Trump then pressed the media to report Birx's comments as if they were narrower than they were -- claiming that Birx was not talking about the United States when she spoke about the US curve, but rather was referring only to "one state." (He didn't name the state he claimed she was talking about.) -- April 2 coronavirus briefing
Facts First: Birx simply wasn't talking about just one state when she called for Americans to pay greater heed to social distancing guidelines. She had made clear that she was talking about the United States broadly, not any individual place.
Birx amended her comments after Trump pressed his argument -- but even in her amended version, she did not say she was talking about just one state. She said, "And not all states, when the presidential guidelines came out, immediately followed the presidential guidelines. Not all states did. There are states that also may have gotten many more seeds from outside communities."
Trump's question to Birx
"Was just informed that the Fake News from the Thursday White House Press Conference had me speaking & asking questions of Dr. Deborah Birx. Wrong, I was speaking to our Laboratory expert, not Deborah, about sunlight etc. & the CoronaVirus. The Lamestream Media is corrupt & sick!" -- April 25 tweet
Facts First: Trump did speak to and ask questions of Birx. In fact, he addressed her by name, "Deborah," when he asked a question about the use of light (and heat) to treat the virus. You can read the official transcript here.
What Dr. Anthony Fauci said in late February
"You go back and you take a look at -- even professionals, like Anthony, were saying this is no problem. This is late in February: 'This is no problem. This is going to blow -- this is going to blow over.'" -- April 28 exchange with reporters at meeting with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
"Everybody -- even Tony Fauci was saying, 'It's going to pass, not going to be a big deal.'" -- May 3 Fox News "virtual town hall" event
Facts First: We have no way of knowing what Fauci has said privately, but Fauci never publicly said the virus was "no problem," "not going to be a big deal" and would "blow over." While it is true that Fauci said in late February that Americans did not need to change their behavior patterns at that time, he also clarified that these conditions could change and coronavirus could develop into a major outbreak.
Trump was presumably referring to an interview Fauci did with NBC's "Today" show, which conservative social media users have been sharing as evidence that experts dismissed the threat of the virus as late as February 29. The President himself promoted a tweet in mid-April referring to the interview.
Fauci said in the interview: "At this moment, there's no need to change anything that you're doing on a day by day basis. Right now, the risk is still low, but this could change. I've said that many times even on this program." He also said: "When you start to see community spread, this could change and force you to become much more attentive to doing things that would protect you from spread."
When asked how the outbreak would end, Fauci said the situation could escalate.
"This could be a major outbreak. I hope not. Or it could be something that's reasonably well controlled," Fauci said. "At the end of the day, this will ultimately go down. Hopefully we could protect the American public from any serious degree of morbidity or mortality. That's the reason why we've got to do the things that we have in our plan."
The safety of hydroxychloroquine
Trump said six times that we know the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine is safe for use for the coronavirus, or that we know it doesn't kill people, because it has previously been used for other illnesses.
Facts First: It's not true that we know hydroxychloroquine can be safely used by coronavirus patients because it has previously been used for other ailments, or even that we know it will not cause death in coronavirus patients. While data was still being gathered about the impact of the drug on coronavirus patients, it was already clear that it can pose risks.
One small early study, released in April, of 368 patients in the Veterans Administration health system said that 97 patients who took hydroxychloroquine had a 27.8% death rate, whereas the 158 patients who did not take the drug had an 11.4% death rate. (That study had not been peer-reviewed at the time of initial publication, and its authors acknowledged it has significant limitations, but a much larger international study published in May also found a higher death rate for hydroxychloroquine patients.)
Another study, of 1,438 hospitalized patients in New York City hospitals, found that the death rate for patients who took the drug was similar to the death rate to those who didn't -- but that patients who took it in combination with the antibiotic azithromycin, as Trump has discussed, were more than twice as likely to suffer cardiac arrest during the course of the study.
In April, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning against the use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine for the coronavirus outside of a hospital or clinical trial due to a risk of heart rhythm problems, saying, "We would like to remind health care professionals and patients of the known risks associated with both hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine."
The FDA said the drugs "can cause abnormal heart rhythms such as QT interval prolongation," "can cause dangerously rapid heart rate called ventricular tachycardia," and can "pose risks that may increase when these medicines are combined with other medicines known to prolong the QT interval, including the antibiotic azithromycin."
Approval of hydroxychloroquine
Trump claimed three times that the Food and Drug Administration had approved the use of anti-malaria drugs chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine to treat the coronavirus. For example, he said at a briefing on March 19: "And that's where the FDA has been so great. They -- they've gone through the approval process; it's been approved."
Facts First: Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine had not been approved by the FDA to treat the coronavirus at the time Trump spoke -- and nor had any other drug, the FDA made clear in a statement, issued shortly after Trump first made this claim on March 19.
On March 28, after Trump had made the claim three times, the FDA granted an "emergency use authorization" for the two drugs -- authorizing them to be used for hospitalized coronavirus patients who weigh at least 50kg, or about 110 pounds.
On April 24, the FDA issued a safety warning for the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat the coronavirus outside of a hospital setting or a clinical trial, saying, "The FDA is aware of reports of serious heart rhythm problems in patients with COVID-19 treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, often in combination with azithromycin and other QT prolonging medicines."
Because chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine had been approved for other purposes, doctors were legally allowed to prescribe them for the unapproved or "off-label" use of treating the coronavirus if they wanted, even before the emergency use authorization.
Early problems with the Paycheck Protection Program
Told that "we're hearing from a lot of small-business owners" about concerns about the new Paycheck Protection Program small business loan program, such as banks not yet ready to start processing loans, Trump said, "That's so false. We're way ahead of schedules. The banks have been great." Trump continued moments later, "It's been a flawless -- it's been flawless, so far. Far beyond our expectations." He added, "I don't even hear of any glitch." -- April 4 coronavirus briefing
Facts First: We don't know what Trump had personally heard, but the rollout of the loan program was hindered by delays and glitches; it certainly was not flawless. You can read details here.
Wells Fargo and the Paycheck Protection Program
Asked about the "confusing start" to the Paycheck Protection Program pandemic loan program for small businesses, Trump said, "I don't think so. I think it's done very well." When he was told, "Well, Wells Fargo has stopped taking applications," he responded, "Not anymore, they haven't." -- April 6 coronavirus briefing
Facts First: Wells Fargo had indeed stopped taking PPP loan applications at the time Trump spoke, and the freeze continued for another day. Wells Fargo had announced the day prior to Trump's comments, April 5, that it would stop taking applications because of an asset cap the Federal Reserve imposed on the bank in 2018 as a result of a 2016 scandal. The Fed decided on April 8 to temporarily ease the restrictions to allow the bank to resume taking applications.
The military and the pandemic
Captain Brett Crozier's letter
Speaking of Navy Capt. Brett Crozier, who was removed from command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier over a letter he wrote to military leaders to seek help with a coronavirus outbreak aboard the ship, Trump said, "But he did -- he did a bad thing, sending a letter out and many, many copies, as you know. I don't know, I heard 28 copies. I heard a lot. That's a lot of copies." -- April 6 coronavirus briefing
Facts First: Crozier did not send out "28 copies" of the letter. Though then-Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly had claimed that Crozier had copied the letter to "20 to 30 people" in addition to the three primary recipients, Washington Post reporting showed that this was not true: Crozier copied seven people.
Coronavirus cases on the Roosevelt
Asked about the coronavirus outbreak on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Trump said, "...that just shows you how rapidly it spreads. It started off with two sailors and then 10 sailors and 20, and now I hear it's 540, of which one has died and a few are very sick." -- April 22 coronavirus briefing
Facts First: We can't say what Trump had heard, but it's not true that there were "540" cases among Roosevelt crew members at the time he spoke here. As of that day, April 22, 710 crew members had tested positive; it was 777 crew members as of the day Trump spoke.
Trump's "540" number had not been up to date for well over a week. As of April 11, 11 days before Trump spoke here, 550 crew members had tested positive.
Crozier and the stop in Vietnam
Trump said, "Now, I guess the captain stopped in Vietnam and people got off in Vietnam. Perhaps you don't do that in the middle of a pandemic or -- or something that looked like it was going to be -- you know, history would say you don't necessarily stop and let your sailors get off, number one." He added, "But he stopped in Vietnam. A lot of people got off the boat. They came back and they had infection. And I thought it was inappropriate for the captain of a ship to do..." -- April 4 coronavirus briefing
Facts First: As noted by journalists who cover the military, such as Gina Harkins of Military.com and Paul Szoldra of Task & Purpose, it was not Crozier's decision to have the USS Roosevelt make a port visit to Da Nang, Vietnam in March; the decision was made well above Crozier's pay grade. The Navy had previously said explicitly that the decision came from Admiral Phil Davidson, commander of the Indo-Pacific Command.
The pandemic and voting
"...I think a lot of people cheat with mail-in voting." -- April 3 coronavirus briefing
Alleging fraud in mail voting, Trump said, "And you get thousands and thousands of people sitting in somebody's living room, signing ballots all over the place." -- April 7 coronavirus briefing
"When you vote, you should have voter ID. And if you send something in, you should be sure -- as a state and as a country, you should be sure that that vote is meaningful and it's not just made fraudulently, because there's a lot of fraudulent voting going on in this country. This country should have voter ID." -- April 8 coronavirus briefing
Facts First: All evidence shows that voter fraud is extremely rare in the United States, though it does happen on occasion; experts say it is slightly more common with mail voting than with in-person voting, but still represents a minuscule fraction of votes cast. There is no evidence of some sort of scheme involving thousands of people fraudulently signing ballots in somebody's (presumably very large) living room.
You can read a longer fact check here and here.
The pandemic and the media
Trump claimed seven times that the anonymous sources quoted by media outlets such as the New York Times and Washington Post do not actually exist. For example, he tweeted on April 11: "When the Failing @nytimes or Amazon @washingtonpost writes a story saying 'unnamed sources said', or any such phrase where a person's name is not used, don't believe them. Most of these unnamed sources don't exist. They are made up to defame & disparage. They have no 'source.'"
Facts First: There is simply no basis for Trump's claim that media outlets regularly make up sources that don't actually exist. There is reasonable criticism of how media outlets make use of anonymous sources, but there is no evidence for Trump's repeated claim that outlets that cover him are serially fabricating the sources' very existence.
Trump has repeatedly made this claim about the Post, which has published multiple stories that have cited large numbers of anonymous administration officials. But he has never provided any proof that the sources cited by the Post and other prominent outlets have been made up -- and stories based on anonymous sources' information have often proved accurate even after the Trump administration has denied them.
Media reports about Alex Azar
"Reports that H.H.S. Secretary @AlexAzar is going to be 'fired' by me are Fake News. The Lamestream Media knows this, but they are desperate to create the perception of chaos & havoc in the minds of the public. They never even called to ask." -- April 26 tweet
Facts First: Trump did not specify which reports he was talking about, but prominent news outlets -- including CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and Politico -- did contact the White House for comment before publishing their stories about Azar's status; their articles included comment from spokesman Judd Deere. (The Journal removed Deere's quote in an updated version of their story.) And the articles said that White House officials were considering replacing Azar, not that Azar was certainly "going" to be fired.
Trump denounced "the fake news" for a report that Washington Gov. Jay Inslee had clashed with him on a phone call and had told him that "we need Tom Brady" in securing critical medical equipment rather than the "backup" Trump had pledged to be -- using the football metaphor to urge the federal government to take a leading role in the effort. (The Washington Post broke the story.) Trump then said that Inslee did make the comment, but "meant it very positively -- but they took it differently." Trump proceeded to repeat that the reporting was "only fake news." -- March 26 coronavirus briefing
Facts First: The reporting on this exchange was not "fake news." Trump himself confirmed that Inslee did utter the "Tom Brady" quote, as did Inslee implicitly (with a joke about it on Twitter). There is no indication that Inslee's remark was meant to be interpreted in a manner substantially different than how the Post and other outlets interpreted it.
Inslee declined to discuss the specifics of the call at a press conference, but added, "I think it would be very, very helpful if the federal government could be more assertive and aggressive and more organized in helping all of us to obtain these systems."
A story in the New York Times
Trump quoted New York Times media correspondent Michael M. Grynbaum as having written the following: "President Trump is a ratings hit. Since reviving the daily White House briefing Mr. Trump and his coronavirus updates have attracted an average audience of 8.5 million on cable news, roughly the viewership of the season finale of 'The Bachelor.' Numbers are continuing to rise..." -- March 29 tweet
Facts First: Trump omitted parts of the article that were unfavorable to him. For example, Grynbaum's first sentence said "President Trump is a ratings hit, and some journalists and public health experts say that could be a dangerous thing"; Trump had Grynbaum writing only, "President Trump is a ratings hit." His second sentence began "Since reviving the daily White House briefing -- a practice abandoned last year by an administration that bristles at outside scrutiny -- Mr. Trump and his coronavirus updates." Trump omitted the "bristles at outside scrutiny" parenthetical.
We don't call it a false claim when Trump makes trivial errors or omissions in his supposed quotes of others, but these changes significantly alter the writer's meaning.
Biden's supposed apology
"Because if you take the ban and you look at it, I was badly criticized by Sleepy Joe Biden, by others. I was criticized horribly for -- I mean, he called -- he said all sorts of things. We won't even say it. And then he apologized because -- two weeks ago, he put out a statement that I was right." -- April 28 exchange with reporters at meeting with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
"They called me a racist. They said 'xenophobic.' Biden said, 'He was xenophobic.' Biden has now written a letter of apology because I did the right thing. I saved hundreds of thousands of lives." -- May 3 Fox News "virtual town hall" event
Facts First: Biden has not apologized for having called Trump xenophobic, in a letter or any other format, or admitted he was wrong -- and Biden did not originally say "You don't need the ban." Furthermore, it's not clear the former vice president even knew about Trump's China travel restrictions when he called Trump xenophobic on the day the restrictions were unveiled.
Biden's campaign announced in early April that he supports Trump's travel restrictions on China, so part of Trump's claim is correct. But the Biden campaign did not say the former vice president had previously been wrong about the ban, much less apologize. Rather, the campaign says Biden's January 31 accusations -- that Trump has a record of "hysterical xenophobia" and "fear mongering" -- were not about the travel restrictions at all.
The campaign says Biden did not know about the restrictions at the time of his speech, since his campaign event in Iowa started shortly after the Trump administration briefing where the restrictions were revealed by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
Given the timing of the Biden remarks, it's not unreasonable for the Trump campaign to infer that the former vice president was talking about the travel restrictions. But Biden never took an explicit position on the restrictions until his April declaration of support -- and whether or not you accept his campaign's argument that the "xenophobia" claim was not about the restrictions, he certainly hasn't apologized for the accusation.
The timing of the Biden statement
"And he actually apologized with a letter on a Friday night saying, 'He made the right move.' It wasn't well played by the press, but he said I made the right move." -- May 3 Fox News "virtual town hall" event
Facts First: Contrary to Trump's repeated suggestion that Biden issued a statement at a time -- a Friday night -- when it was likely to receive little press coverage, the Biden campaign revealed during the daytime on Friday, April 3 that Biden supports Trump's travel restrictions on China. (As we explained in a separate item, Biden did not apologize for any of his previous comments.) Deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield made a daytime statement to CNN anchor and chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper, who filed his article to CNN editors at 1:28 p.m. Tapper's article was last updated at 4:42 p.m. that day, the CNN website shows.
Asked about Biden's prediction that Trump will try to delay November's presidential election, Trump said he hadn't thought about trying to change the date -- then suggested a Biden aide, not Biden himself, had made the prediction.
"And that was just made-up propaganda -- not by him, but by some of the many people that are working, writing little statements. I see all the time: 'Statement made...' You say, 'So, statement made per Joe Biden.' Sleepy Joe. He didn't make those statements, but somebody did. But they said he made it." -- April 27 coronavirus briefing
Facts First: Biden did make the prediction, saying at a virtual fundraising event: "Mark my words: I think he is going to try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can't be held."
This was not the first time that Trump had suggested that other people besides Biden -- such as his campaign staff -- are the real ones behind his words.
Pelosi and Chinatown
Trump made six false claims about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's February visit to San Francisco's Chinatown, variously claiming that Pelosi had been "dancing," held "parties," and called for a "big parade," a "street fair" or a "march."
Facts First: Pelosi did visit the neighborhood amid concerns of rising anti-Chinese bigotry, and she did encourage people to visit the area, but Trump has repeatedly exaggerated what she said and did.
Pelosi urged people to visit Chinatown, claiming it was safe to do so, but, contrary to Trump's claims, she did not call for a Chinatown parade, parties, a street fair or a march; she simply walked around, visited businesses and a temple, ate dim sum, and spoke to the media.
Here's one of Pelosi's quotes from the Chinatown visit: "We should come to Chinatown. Precautions have been taken by our city. We know that there is concern surrounding tourism, traveling all throughout the world, but we think it's very safe to be in Chinatown and hope that others will come. It's lovely here. The food is delicious, the shops are prospering, the parade was great. Walking tours continue. Please come and visit and enjoy Chinatown."
Trump tweeted the same day that "the Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA"
A non-tweet by Pelosi
Trump tweeted a video of Pelosi's visit to Chinatown, and he wrote: "Crazy Nancy Pelosi deleted this from her Twitter account." -- April 17 tweet
Facts First: Pelosi never posted the video to Twitter, so she obviously didn't delete it.
Miscellaneous pandemic claims
States and the pandemic
Trump claimed on April 16 that "you have states without any problem" with the coronavirus pandemic. He continued: "You have states with few cases, and those few cases have healed. You have states with very little death, relatively speaking. As I said, one is too many, but you have states with very little, and frankly, they're at a point where they have almost nothing." -- April 16 coronavirus briefing
Facts First: It was not true that some states did not have "any problem" related to coronavirus. At the time the President spoke here, all 50 states each had more than 200 confirmed cases, and 41 states have more than 1,000 confirmed cases. There is no definitive state-by-state data on how many infected people have recovered. You can read a longer fact check here.
Coronavirus deaths versus Civil War deaths
"So, if we didn't do what we did, we were talking about up to 2.2 million deaths. So that's five times almost what we lost in the Civil War." -- April 16 coronavirus briefing
Facts First: Trump was exaggerating. While debate continues over the exact number of deaths from the Civil War, scholars have long used an estimate of 620,000 deaths among soldiers. (That figure does not count civilian deaths.) A hypothetical 2.2 million death toll from coronavirus would be, at most, 3.5 times the Civil War death total.
An unforeseen problem, part 1
Trump claimed seven times that nobody ever expected or imagined this kind of pandemic situation. For example, he said on April 19: "So nobody ever thought this could have happened, a thing like this. It's very, very sad."
Facts First: Trump was just wrong. The US intelligence community, public health experts and officials in Trump's own administration had warned for years that the country was at risk from a pandemic. Some of the warnings specifically mentioned the possibility of a coronavirus pandemic. And when this particular coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, was identified in China in early January, health experts quickly cautioned it could be a major problem around the world.
An unforeseen problem, part 2
"We have a problem that a month ago nobody ever thought about." -- March 16 coronavirus briefing
Facts First: Trump's timeline was simply wrong. In addition to the years of general warnings about the risks of a pandemic, the US had its first confirmed case of this specific coronavirus on January 21, more than seven weeks before Trump made both of these remarks; it's clearly not true that "nobody" was thinking in early February and mid-February that the US could have a problem with the virus.
"Given the nature of how easily it's spreading in China, I would not be surprised if it evolved into a pandemic," Dr. Anthony Fauci was quoted as saying in a February 8 article in USA Today.
Talking at the April 22 coronavirus briefing about how he would exempt farmworkers from his new restrictions on immigration, Trump said, "We don't want to do -- you know, the border has been turned off a number of times over the years. And you know what happened? Our farmers all went out of business. They were out of business. They couldn't farm. We're taking care of our farmers. Nobody ever took care of farmers like I take care of farmers." -- April 22 coronavirus briefing
At the April 21 coronavirus briefing, Trump said, "The farmers will not be affected...You know, they've had cases where they -- where they stopped everybody from coming in, and all the farmers went out of business. They were literally out of business. You remember that...It was not so long ago."
Facts First: It is not true that some sort of closure of the border, or even a closure of the border to migrant workers, resulted in all of America's farmers going out of business. Five experts on agricultural labor told CNN they did not know what situation Trump was talking about; some ventured guesses, but they explained that Trump was, at best, twisting and exaggerating a real story.
"I cannot think of an example of a large number of US farms going out of business due to closing the border -- mostly because there are so few times when the border has been closed," said Philip Martin, a University of California, Davis professor emeritus of agricultural and resource economics and an expert on rural migration. Martin said in an email that "there have been many predictions that farmers WOULD go out of business without Mexican-born workers, legal and unauthorized, and there were periods of adjustment in the mid-1960s," but there was no actual mass farm shutdown.
Diane Charlton, a Montana State University assistant professor of agricultural economics and economics, said she thought Trump might have been referring inaccurately to the 1964 end of the US-Mexico guest worker program known as the Bracero Program.
"When Congress ended the Bracero Program, the agricultural industry feared that farms would go out of business with the anticipated drop in Mexican farm labor supply. However, that did not happen, at least not at a large scale," Charlton said in an email. "Two factors kept farm wages low following the termination of the program: 1) Bracero guest workers were replaced in large part by unauthorized immigrants, including former Bracero workers, and 2) there were some major innovations in agricultural mechanization that reduced agricultural labor demand just following the end of the Bracero Program."
There have been occasions in the 21st century in which individual states' crackdowns on illegal immigration reportedly harmed farmers in the states. But those situations did not result in "all the farmers" going out of business, as Trump said.
Troops on the Canadian border
Asked about a reported March proposal from his administration to place some US troops near the Canadian border, which was opposed by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump said, "Well, we have very strong deployments on the southern border, as you know, with Mexico. And we had some troops up in Canada. But I'll find out about that. I guess it's equal justice, to a certain extent. But, in Canada, we have -- we do have troops along the border." -- March 26 coronavirus briefing
Facts First: There is no evidence Trump actually did deploy troops to the Canadian border, which is famously non-militarized. A Canadian government official told CNN in May that they were unaware of any actual US troop deployments. A US defense official told CNN in March that momentum behind the proposal had abated and that a deployment did not appear to be happening any time soon.
Before the reports that the proposal had been dropped, Trudeau said at a news conference: "Canada and the United States have the longest un-militarized border in the world and it is very much in both of our interests for it to remain that way. We have been in discussions with the United States on this."
Church attendance and the law
Trump said that he has seen cases at churches where people were "literally staying in their car with the window closed," listening to a service on a radio, "and they were getting arrested, and they're sitting in a car, and the cars are even far away." -- May 3 Fox News "virtual town hall" event
Facts First: Trump was mistaken or slightly exaggerating. There have not been any reports of churchgoers "getting arrested" for listening to a church service in their cars. Trump may have been attempting to refer to what happened outside a church in Greenville, Mississippi, where local media reported people attending a drive-in service in their cars were given $500 tickets, but not arrested, for allegedly violating the mayor's distancing executive order. The mayor later announced they would not have to pay the $500.
What you call the coronavirus
"The young people are really -- this is an incredible phenomena, but they are attacked -- successfully attacked -- to a much lesser extent by this pandemic, by this disease, this -- whatever they want to call it. You can call it a germ, you can call it a flu, you can call it a virus. You know, you can call it many different names. I'm not sure anybody even knows what it is." -- March 27 coronavirus briefing
Facts First: You cannot accurately call the coronavirus "a flu." They are, simply, different viruses with different characteristics. Though they share some symptoms, the coronavirus has a much higher mortality rate. It's also obviously untrue that there is not "anybody" who knows what the coronavirus is. Though it was initially seen as a mystery virus when it emerged in China, we knew its genetic information by early January.
Mortality in the 1918 flu pandemic
"You can't compare this to 1918 where close to 100 million people died. That was a flu, which -- a little different. But that was a flu where if you got it you had a 50/50 chance, or very close, of dying." -- March 24 Fox News "virtual town hall" event
Facts First: Trump was exaggerating. Though estimates of the mortality rate for the 1918 flu pandemic vary widely since records from that period are incomplete, there are not any credible estimates as high as 50%. Scholars estimate the mortality rate is between about 2% and 20%.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at least 50 million people worldwide died from the H1N1 virus in 1918 and 1919, out of the approximately 500 million people who were infected. A 2006 study published in the CDC's Emerging Infectious Diseases journal puts the number of deaths from the virus between 50 and 100 million, for a mortality rate of 10-20%. Epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, who worked with the World Health Organization to help eradicate smallpox, told CNN he thinks Trump is off by "10 times" when it comes to the mortality rate of the 1918 pandemic.
"Net, net you can find credible death rate estimates from 2-10 percent," Brilliant said. "Either way that is a far cry from 50 percent."
Trump said four times in April that he hadn't left the White House in "months," or hadn't left for months except for a March 28 trip to Virginia to see off the Comfort hospital ship.
Facts First: Trump left the White House on several occasions in March.
Trump held a campaign rally in North Carolina on March 2. He went to Pennsylvania on March 5 for a Fox News town hall. On March 6, he visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Atlanta and toured tornado damage in Tennessee. He then spent the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago club and residence in Florida, flying to Orlando for a private fundraiser on March 9. He visited the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington on March 19. As he had said in others versions of this claim, he went to Virginia on March 28 to see off the Comfort hospital ship from Virginia to New York.
In February, Trump held five rallies, played golf and made a trip to India, among other travels outside the White House.