Trump Is Still Downplaying COVID: 'It Affects Virtually Nobody'

Six months and 200,000 American deaths later, the president is telling his supporters that coronavirus is no big deal.
September 22, 2020, 12:18pm
AP Photo/Tony Dejak

As of Tuesday morning, 199,884 people have died as a result of coronavirus in the U.S., according to data collated by Johns Hopkins University. Most experts agree that the true figure is likely significantly higher, yet President Donald Trump told a crowd of supporters Monday night that COVID-19 “affects virtually nobody.”

Trump was speaking to thousands of mostly maskless and not socially-distanced supporters in Swanton, Ohio, when he claimed, inaccurately, that the coronavirus does not affect young people.

“It affects elderly people, elderly people with heart problems and other problems. That’s what it really affects,” the president said. “In some states, thousands of people — nobody young. Below the age of 18, like, nobody. They have a strong immune system, who knows? Take your hat off to the young, because they have a hell of an immune system. But it affects virtually nobody. It’s an amazing thing.”

Trump’s claim contradicts not only almost all public health experts but also his own assertion to Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward in March where he admitted the virus affected “plenty of young people.”

“Now it’s turning out it’s not just old people, Bob,” Trump told the veteran journalist. “But just today, and yesterday, some startling facts came out. It’s not just old, older.”

While a lot is still not known about how the coronavirus impacts young people, public health agencies have said people under 18 face a greater risk of falling seriously ill than previously thought.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said last month that the number and rate of coronavirus cases among those under 18 increased “steadily” from March to July.

Trump dismissed the threat posed by COVID-19 just hours after declaring that the U.S. was “rounding a corner” in the fight against coronavirus, adding that his administration had done a “phenomenal job” in handling the crisis.

Nevermind the fact that many parts of the U.S. are continuing to see rising infection rates and top epidemiologists warned that the country is facing “a very apocalyptic fall,” where the healthcare system could be overwhelmed by a “twindemic” of coronavirus and the seasonal flu.

Trump’s Democratic rival Joe Biden on Monday hit out at Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, saying that due to the president’s “lies and incompetence in the past six months, we've seen one of the gravest losses of American life in history.”

“Trump panicked,”  Biden said during a campaign rally in Wisconsin. “The virus was too big for him. All his life, Donald Trump has been bailed out of any problem he faced. With this crisis, a real crisis, when it was a crisis that required serious presidential leadership, he just wasn't up to it.”

Cover: President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Swanton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)