Did Donald Trump (POTUS) help during the Covid-19 pandemic?


  • Did not take decisive action at the start of the crisis in the US, while down-playing the threat (FullFact). EDIT: Originally six distinct points. Combined on 1st April 2020)
  • On 24th March, said he wanted ‘packed churches’ and economy open again on Easter despite the threat (CNBC)
  • Trump’s administration axed the team responsible for coordinating a response to a pandemic and did not replace it (Snopes)
  • Sent nearly 17.8 tons of medical supplies to China (7th February), which critics argue should have been stored to use as the outbreak spread in the US (Snopes)
  • Referred to those in hot-spot zones as “complainers” (NY Times), although this could refer to politicians rather than the public
  • Criticised for hesitating on using the Defense Production Act, which is routinely used in day-to-day business for armament acquisition, to procure ventilators (NY Times) EDIT: Trump later used the act on GM for ventilator production (CNN)
  • Trump’s Border Control were not taking quarantining seriously. On 5th March, a Vice News Producer who had been reporting on the coronavirus’ outbreak in Italy said, “I walked right through US customs. They didn’t ask me where in Italy I went or if I came into contact with sick people. They didn’t ask me anything.” (Twitter). NY Times Reporter Mike McIntire confirmed this (Twitter). EDIT: Originally listed as two distinct points. Combined on 1st April 2020
  • Trump calls coronavirus ‘the Chinese virus’ (CNBC) EDIT: We believe that public statements could incite racism are unhelpful and impact the matter negatively. Other terms, such as Covid-19 or Coronavirus, are widely used and do not have racial connotations
  • Early March announce it to be a National Emergency (Independent) EDIT: Removed on 1st April 2020. Point should not have been included
  • Claimed it was a hoax (Independent) EDIT: This article appears to be based on a misinterpretation. See Snopes for more
  • Publicly downplayed the need for ventilators in New York (The Gurdian)
  • Talked up an unproven COVID-19 treatment, which led to nationwide shortages of a medication for those suffering from Lupus (ProPublica)
  • Threatened to ignore governors of hard hit states’ requests for help if they don’t show enough appreciation (Forbes)
  • Stimulus checks may be delayed as Trump required the U.S. Treasury to print his name on them (News Week) EDIT: Steven Mnuchin confirmed this was his idea, not Trumps (The Hill)
  • Cut funding from the WHO (The Guardian)
  • Discussed in a White House Press conference about using disinfectant and UV Rays to kill the virus, which was incorrect and caused many to go to hospital whilst following his advice (The Guardian)
  • Trump publicly downplayed the threat of cornavirus for weeks after his initial comments to Woodward, and he told Woodward on March 19 he did so purposefully. “I wanted to always play it down,” Trump said in a recorded interview. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.” (CNN)
  • On February 7, as he told the public that the virus was nothing to worry about, Trump said to Woodward: “It goes through the air. That’s always tougher than the touch. You don’t have to touch things. Right? But the air, you just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.” (BI)
  1. Expanded tele-health benefits for Medicare beneficiaries (CMS)
  2. Announced that travel from Europe would be restricted for 30 days to reduce US infection (Fox News)
  3. Signed off on sending nearly 17.8 tons of medical supplies to China to help combat the spread of the virus in early 2020 (Snopes)
  4. Started mandatory screening for all travellers coming into the country from high-risk areas, such as Italy and South Korea. (CNN) and raised travel advisories to their highest level (USA Today)
  5. Signed historic $2 trillion stimulus. Individuals who earn $75,000 in adjusted gross income or less would get direct payments of $1,200 each, with married couples earning up to $150,000 receiving $2,400 — and an additional $500 per each child (CNN)
  6. Announced that he will instruct the Treasury Department to allow individuals and businesses negatively affected by the coronavirus to defer their tax payments beyond the April 15 filing deadline. This would have the effect of putting more than $200 billion back into the economy that would otherwise go to paying taxes next month (Market Watch)
  7. Trump approved the US military’s deployment of a Navy hospital ship to Los Angeles to bolster coronavirus response efforts (Business Insider)

There are many conflicting perspectives on the actions taken by Trump and his administration during the coronavirus. This greatly challenges our simplistic rating metric.

For example, was sending medical supplies to China negative or positive? It reduced US-readiness as the virus was expanding the US. However, it may have also led to a reduction in spread in China, which was already struggling. Was the action fiscally motivated, to profit from the trade? Or ethically, to aid China’s people in need?

Similarly, Trump limited travel early from China (CIS). This was criticised as being racist and playing politics with real people’s lives, but it is now quite typical for countries to be restricting travel. Does this mean Trump was right? Or does it mean he should have added further travel restrictions to other countries early on? It is another example of how issues can have multiple perspectives, as reflected in the feedback received by readers about this page.

Another aspect is using the virus to hide actions that would be spotlighted under normal times (NY Times). It is incredibly difficult for us to know if this is deliberate or coincidental, and so provide a rating for it.

We’d like to thank our dedicated community for sending in multiple perspectives on this entry, and would like to refute the claim from one submitter that “all you needed to say is that your a bunch of political hacks.”

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