Even as the death toll surpassed more than 100,000 Americans last month, Trump pushed a dangerous narrative that the situation is more under control than it actually is.
As of May 29, President Trump had made 19,127 false or misleading claims over the span of 1,226 days, according to a tally by the Washington Post.
In recent months, a staggering number of those lies had to do with the coronavirus pandemic, ranging from the seriousness of COVID-19 to the way his administration had handled the threat.
Even as the death toll has surpassed more than 100,000 Americans, Trump pushed a dangerous narrative that the situation is more under control than it actually is.
Here are nine noteworthy times Trump lied about the coronavirus, and the events surrounding the pandemic, in May alone.
1. “Don’t forget, the cupboard was bare. The other administration, the last administration, left us nothing. We didn’t have ventilators. We didn’t have medical equipment. We didn’t have testing. The tests were broken. You saw that. We had broken tests.” — Trump in an interview with ABC News on May 5
Trump has attempted to shift blame to the Obama administration through the pandemic, including falsely claiming to have been left without resources to fight against this type of situation.
In fact, the Trump administration disbanded the pandemic response team put in place by their predecessors, although some members were reassigned to roles that included pandemic response.
The stockpile Trump spoke of, the Strategic National Stockpile, was far from bare, as an archived page from December 2016 from the CDC shows, listing a cache of medical equipment (including ventilators) and medicine valued at an estimated $7 billion.
The comment about tests also doesn’t make sense, as COVID-19 was not an issue prior to 2019. Trump seems to be criticizing Obama for not creating tests for an illness that did not yet exist in humans.
2. “Those models that you’re mentioning are talking about without mitigation.” — Trump in that same ABC interview.
Trump also claimed two projections predicting an increase in deaths were not taking mitigation efforts, such as social-distancing, into effect. In both cases, that is incorrect.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington estimated 135,000 deaths by August, which takes social-distancing and the wearing of masks into account.
The other study, conducted by Johns Hopkins University for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, estimates 200,000 new cases per day by June. John Lessler, who led the study, said in an interview with NPR that the numbers include several scenarios “under which current measures are moderately effective…[and] become half as effective going forward.” Other scenarios “include the assumption that current measures are highly effective and they’re half as effective going forward as current measures expire.”
3. “… we are now doing more testing than all other countries combined.” — Trump on Twitter May 6
On May 6, Trump tweeted that the United States had administered more COVID-19 tests than the rest of the world combined.
While it is true that the U.S. had administered more tests than any other country—although only going by total number and not per capita—it had not bested all other nations combined.
According to the COVID Tracking Project, by that date the U.S. had conducted over 7.8 million tests. According to Our World in Data, by May 8, Russia had conducted over 4.6 million tests, Italy over 2.3 million, India nearly 1.3 million, and Turkey over 1.3 million.
4. “You’d be surprised at how many people are taking [hydroxychloroquine], especially the frontline workers … you look at frontline workers—you look at doctors and nurses—a lot of them are taking it as a preventative.” — Trump to reporters on May 18
The president revealed earlier this month that he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventative against COVID-19, despite there being no evidence of its efficacy. Trump claimed there were “a lot” of frontline healthcare workers taking the drug for that purpose, but there is no scientific evidence of that. There are a couple of studies in the works to test its potential effectiveness as a preventative for the illness.
Trump’s statements drew attention from health experts, who warned against using the drug in the way the president described.
5. “If you look at the one survey, the only bad survey, they were giving it to people that were in very bad shape. They were very old, almost dead.” — Trump regarding hydroxychloroquine research, May 19
In defending hydroxychloroquine, Trump told reporters there was “only one bad survey” about the drug. In reality, there have been a number of studies raising concerns.
Trump was referring to a study of patients in Veterans Affairs hospitals, which found the drug connected to an increased overall mortality. The anti-malaria drug has been known to increase risk of heart failure in some.
He also said those patients given the drug were “very old,” but in reality, the median age of those given hydroxychloroquine was 70 years old. Trump himself is 73 years old.
At the time of his remarks, there were at least two other recent studies that found no evidence of hydroxychloroquine helping those with COVID-19, one out of China and one out of France.
6. “It was a Trump enemy statement.” — Trump to reporters about the aforementioned VA study, May 19.
The president dismissed the VA study not only as “bad,” but also claimed, without evidence, that it was a “Trump enemy statement.” As Vox notes, the results of that study were signal-boosted by the National Institutes of Health and resulted in the Food and Drug Administration posting a warning about the drug on its website.
7. He called a report on how adopting social-distancing orders earlier could have saved lives “a political hit job.” — Trump to reporters on May 21.
Just two days later the president was back to making paranoid claims and sowing division, calling a report estimating tens of thousands of lives could have been saved had social-distancing practices been put into place at the start of March, instead of mid-March, “a political hit job.”
The data came out of Columbia University.
8. “I can absolutely do it if I want to. We have many different ways where I can override them and if I have to, I’ll do that.” — Trump on his ability to force governors to reopen religious institutions that have closed due to stay-at-home orders and other coronavirus-related restrictions, May 27
Legal scholars point out that the president does not have the authority to order states to reopen churches and other religious spaces to hold in-person gatherings. That power rests with governors.
9. “The Radical Left Lamestream Media, together with their partner, the Do Nothing Democrats, are trying to spread a new narrative that President Trump was slow in reacting to Covid 19. Wrong, I was very fast, even doing the Ban on China long before anybody thought necessary!” — Trump on Twitter May 27
While Trump did impose travel restrictions, there were exceptions and it was not an all-out ban as the ad claims.
As for the “fast” action Trump claims he took, experts have criticized a lag in testing compared to other countries, as well as his frequent downplaying of the severity of the situation, including claiming it would all be over by April.