- President Trump falsely claimed on Tuesday that he "up-played" the COVID-19 pandemic despite making remarks in public and on audio tape showing otherwise.
- "I didn't downplay it," Trump said in response to a question about his handling of the pandemic during an ABC News town hall. "I actually in many ways up-played it in action."
- In fact, Trump told the veteran reporter Bob Woodward that he knew the coronavirus was easily transmissible and deadlier than the flu, and that he intentionally "wanted to play it down" so it wouldn't "create a panic."
- As of Tuesday, the coronavirus has infected 6.6 million Americans and killed nearly 196,000. The US has roughly 25% of the world's confirmed cases despite making up just 4% of its population.
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President Donald Trump falsely claimed on Tuesday that he "up-played" the coronavirus pandemic despite audio tapes and public comments indicating the opposite.
"I didn't downplay it," Trump said in response to a question about his handling of COVID-19 during an ABC News town hall. "I actually in many ways up-played it in action."
Fact check: The president repeatedly and consistently misled the public about the severity of the outbreak even as it killed thousands across the country and decimated the economy. He also admitted to the veteran journalist Bob Woodward that the disease was easily transmissible and more dangerous than the flu. And he later told Woodward he intentionally downplayed the risk of the pandemic despite telling the public otherwise.
On February 7, 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."
A few weeks later, on February 26, the president said during a coronavirus task force briefing that COVID-19 is "a little bit different, but in some ways it's easier and in some ways it's a little bit tougher" than the flu.
"But we have it so well under control," he added. "I mean, we really have done a very good job."
In another interview with Woodward on March 19, the president said he "wanted to always play it down," referring to the coronavirus outbreak. "I still like playing it down because I don't want to create a panic," he added.
As of Tuesday evening, COVID-19 has infected more than 6.6 million Americans and killed nearly 196,000. The economy is in shambles, millions of Americans have lost their jobs, and the country has roughly 25% of the world's coronavirus cases despite having just 4% of the population.
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