Dr. Anthony Fauci came out against President Donald Trump’s mischaracterization of his March 22, 2020 comments blatantly used in a campaign ad without his consent. But the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent thinks that there is a much deeper reason for Fauci’s frustration. At the time that he was heralding the Coronavirus Task Force for their dedication, Trump was still lying to the public about the virus.
“At around the time that Fauci uttered those words, Trump was actively and determinedly resisting the efforts of federal health officials, including the coronavirus task force, to take the steps they deemed necessary to stop coronavirus’s spread,” Sargent explained. “So the use of Fauci’s comments doesn’t just pluck them out of context. It also distorts them in a manner designed to rewrite much of the history of Trump’s own depraved and malevolent dereliction of duty during an absolutely critical period.”
By March 2020, the World Health Organization had declared the coronavirus a global pandemic. Democrats stopped holding campaign rallies, but Trump started the month in North Carolina with crowd-size estimations ranging from 7,000 to 15,000 people, said WRAL-TV in Raleigh.
Trump told reporters that it was perfectly safe to hold rallies, despite telling Bob Woodward that it was a dangerous, airborne virus.
“[W]e have a very small number of people in this country [infected]. We have a big country. The biggest impact we had was when we took the 40-plus people [from a cruise ship],” Trump told a group of CEOs at the White House on March 4. “We brought them back. We immediately quarantined them. But you add that to the numbers. But if you don’t add that to the numbers, we’re talking about very small numbers in the United States.”
Later that day, he told Fox News that the 3.4 percent mortality rate for the virus was probably false.
So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 9, 2020
“And we’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away,” Trump told the press after meeting with Republicans.
Ahead of Fauci’s remarks, Trump told Bob Woodward on March 19, “To be honest with you, I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”
It was just days later that Fauci praised the task force’s hard work to flatten the curve so as to ensure hospitals weren’t overrun with patients. Two days later Trump called for churches to reopen and be packed for Easter.
“So I think Easter Sunday and you’ll have packed churches all over our country. I think it would be a beautiful time. And it’s just about the timeline that I think is right,” Trump told Fox News on March 24.
At the same time, there was a massive debate over whether two weeks of quarantine would be enough to stop the spread.
“As it is, Trump had to be dragged to even that point. Trump’s top health officials had concluded as early as mid-February that such recommendations were urgently needed,” recalled Sargent. “But as the New York Times detailed, Trump worried about harming the economy — which would undercut his reelection hopes — thus squandering “crucial additional weeks” before he “reluctantly” acted.
Sargent explained that so much of what Americans have faced could have been avoided and still could be avoided if Trump truly took what Dr. Fauci says seriously.
“Much of this could have been avoided if Trump had heeded the warnings that Fauci and other experts were issuing at precisely the time when Fauci uttered the words that have now been twisted into praise of the president’s mismanagement of this whole catastrophe,” he said.