Trump on China’s Handling of COVID-19

As Donald Trump has taken to referring to COVID-19 as the “China virus”, it is worth remembering ahead of the election this year that he initially had nothing but praise for China’s handling of the virus, including the possibility that they weren’t accurately reporting cases.

Trump had the following exchange with Geraldo Rivera during a February 14, 2020 interview,

Geraldo Rivera: Are you worried about this virus affecting … I mean, obviously, you’re worried about the virus and people getting sick, but what about the economy as another victim of the [inaudible]

Donald Trump: Well, we’re working on it very closely. I spoke to President Xi two days ago. They’re working on it very professionally. It’s a problem. We think and we hope, based on all signs, that the problem goes away in April because … which is not too far down the road … because heat kills this virus. We think. Now we’re going to find out, Geraldo, but we think. And they are having difficulty in China, but they’re working very, very hard. We’re working with them. We’re sending a lot of people, and CDC has been great, but it’s a problem in China. Has not been spreading very much and, in our country, we only have basically 12 cases, and most of those people are recovering and, some cases, fully recovered. So it’s actually less. But-

Geraldo Rivera: Did the Chinese tell the truth about this?

Donald Trump: Well, you never know. I think they want to put the best face on it. So I mean, if somebody … If you were running it, you’d probably … You wouldn’t want to run out to the world and go crazy and start saying whatever it is because you don’t want to create a panic. But, no, I think they’ve handled it professionally, and I think they’re extremely capable. And I think President Xi is extremely capable, and I hope that it’s going to be resolved. Again, the April date is very important, but this is a big thing. The April date is very, very important because, if that’s the case, if heat does in fact kill … That’s when it starts getting hot, and this virus reacts very poorly to heat and dies. So we’ll see what happens.

Trump praised China’s response, including any efforts they made to hide the spread of cases, because this precisely how Trump would and did handle the pandemic.

Like Xi, the only thing that matters to Trump is the effect that the COVID-19 pandemic has on him personally, not the lives lost and irreparably damaged because of his incompetence and failure to act.