The lead section of this article may need to be rewritten. The reason given is: Lead does not adequately summarize the article.(February 2021)
|Part of a series on the|
Misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic has been propagated by various public figures, including officials of the United States government. The Trump administration in particular made a large number of misleading statements about the pandemic. A Cornell University study found that U.S. President Donald Trump was "likely the largest driver" of the COVID-19 misinformation infodemic in English-language media,downplaying the virus and promoting unapproved drugs. Others have also been accused of spreading misinformation, including U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, backing conspiracy theories regarding the origin of the virus, U.S. senators and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, who downplayed the virus.
This section needs to be updated.(May 2021)
United States President Donald Trump and his top economic adviser Larry Kudlow have been accused of spreading misinformation about the coronavirus. On 25 February, Trump said, "I think that whole situation will start working out. We're very close to a vaccine." percent, and said, "Well, I think the 3.4 percent is really a false number — and this is just my hunch — but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this, because a lot of people will have this and it's very mild, they'll get better very rapidly. They don't even see a doctor. They don't even call a doctor. You never hear about those people", that the potential impact of the outbreak was exaggerated by Democrats plotting against him, and that it was safe for infected individuals to go to work. In a later tweet, Trump denied having made claims regarding infected individuals going to work, contrary to footage from the interview.At the time, SARS-CoV-2 had been spreading in the United States undetected for weeks, and new vaccine development may require a minimum of a year to prove safety and efficacy to gain regulatory approval. In an interview with Sean Hannity on 4 March, Trump also claimed that the death rate published by the WHO was false, that the correct fatality rate was less than 1
The White House accused media of intentionally stoking fears of the virus to destabilize the administration.The Stat News reported that "President Trump and members of his administration have also said that US containment of the virus is 'close to airtight' and that the virus is only as deadly as the seasonal flu. Their statements range from false to unproven, and in some cases, underestimate the challenges that public health officials must contend with in responding to the virus." Around the same time the "airtight" claim was made, SARS-CoV-2 was already past containment; the first case of community spread of the virus had been confirmed, and it was spreading faster than severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus, with a case fatality rate at least seven times the rate for seasonal flu.
Trump repeatedly compared COVID-19 to influenza, despite the fact that COVID-19's mortality rate is estimated to be approximately ten times higher. On 26 February, he stated: "This is a flu. This is like a flu". On 9 March, Trump compared the 546 known US cases of COVID-19 at the time and the 22 known deaths at the time to the tens of thousands of US deaths from flu each year. On 24 March, Trump argued that: "We lose thousands and thousands of people a year to the flu ... But we've never closed down the country for the flu." On 27 March, he stated: "You can call it a flu". On 31 March, Trump changed his stance: "It's not the flu ... It's vicious ... I knew everything. I knew it could be horrible, and I knew it could be maybe good."
On 4 March, Trump blamed the Barack Obama administration for making "a decision" that delayed COVID-19 testing by the Trump administration. The policy in question had never been modified by the Obama administration, despite plans to do so. The policy's overall legal roots date to 2004, before the Obama administration. Under the umbrella of Emergency Use Authorizations, the old policy stated that laboratory-developed tests "should not be used for clinical diagnoses without FDA's approval, clearance, or authorization during an emergency declaration". However, this policy was historically treated as a recommendation and generally unenforced, with no clear legal authority of the FDA in this area. The Trump administration continued to require laboratories to apply to the FDA for approval, but allowed the laboratories to test while the FDA processed the applications.
On 6 March, Trump over-promised on the availability of COVID-19 testing in the United States, claiming that "anybody that wants a test can get a test." Firstly, there were criteria needed to qualify for a test; recommendations were needed from doctors or health officials to approve testing. Secondly, the lack of test supplies resulted in some being denied tests even though doctors wanted to test them.
On 19 March, Trump falsely claimed the drug chloroquine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for COVID-19. This led the FDA to say it had not approved any drugs or therapies for COVID-19, and strongly advised people against taking it outside of a hospital or clinical trial, due to possibly fatal side effects.While Trump claimed that "we're going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately", the leader of the FDA said the drug would still need to be tested in a "large, pragmatic clinical trial" on subjects infected with COVID-19. While Trump promoted chloroquine as a potential "game changer", Fauci said positive results thus far were still based on anecdotal evidence and not "definitive" evidence from clinical trials. At a later press briefing, Trump prevented Fauci from answering a question about the medical evidence of the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine. Trump also remarked that re-purposing existing drugs for COVID-19 is "safe" and "not killing people" (chloroquine is a form of treatment for malaria, while its derivative hydroxychloroquine is a form of treatment for lupus or arthritis), however most drugs may cause side effects. Potentially serious side effects from chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine include irregular heartbeats, tinnitus, blurred vision, muscle weakness or "mental changes". Overdoses of these drugs have been documented in scientific literature, including fatal overdoses. Demand for chloroquine in Lagos, Nigeria sharply increased after Trump's comments, with three people overdosing by 23 March. An Arizona engineer in his 60s died after ingesting a fish tank cleaner containing chloroquine phosphate in a vitamin cocktail prepared by his wife. The wife stated she intended to medicate her husband against the coronavirus after hearing Trump tout the potential benefits of chloroquine during a public briefing.
On 21 March, Trump addressed a shortage of ventilator supply in the United States, claiming that carmaker companies General Motors (GM) and Ford "are making them right now" when the companies were not producing ventilators at the time, and had yet to change their factories' production abilities.
On 30 March, Trump claimed his administration "inherited a broken test" for COVID-19. "That wasn't from us. That's been there a long time," he said. The claim was illogical because no previous administration could have prepared a test for a disease which had yet to emerge. COVID-19 emerged during Trump's presidency, having first been reported on 31 December 2019.The test was designed in 2020 by the Centers for Disease Control under the Trump administration. Trump continued to make the false claim on 19 April.
From 2 to 9 April, the White House was in a standoff with CNN, which frequently declined to air the daily coronavirus Task Force briefings, and which fact-checked Trump's remarks. The White House said that if CNN did not begin airing the part of the briefing that featured the Task Force members, including Mike Pence, then the White House would disallow national health experts (including Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx) from appearing on CNN. Pence relented and allowed Robert R. Redfield to appear on CNN.
On 13 April, Donald Trump played a video at a white house briefing that defended his handling of his pandemic; the video was described as propaganda.
During a 15 April White House news conference, President Trump said the US government is trying to determine if the COVID-19 virus emanated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.The vice director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology called the accusations a "conspiracy theory".
On 23 April, after a Homeland Security official stated that certain disinfectants can kill the coronavirus on surfaces, Trump openly wondered if disinfectants could be used on humans "by injection", saying "it'd be interesting to check" if that was a potential treatment. Injecting disinfectants into the body is dangerous and potentially lethal. Trump also suggested another "interesting" method to be tested: "we hit the body with a tremendous—whether it's ultraviolet or just very powerful light ... supposing you brought the light inside of the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way." He asked coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx if heat or light can be used as a treatment, to which Birx stated she had not seen any treatments using heat or light. Trump attributed these ideas to him being "a person that has a good you-know-what".
The next day, the White House accused the media of taking Trump's words "out of context", while Trump defended himself by claiming he had spoken in a "very sarcastic" manner and that he had addressed his comment "to reporters ... just to see what would happen", this despite the video showing he had addressed not reporters but rather Deborah Birx directly, and had also been looking at Bill Bryan, head of the DHS science and technology division. In his defense, Trump also tried revising his comment to say disinfectant "would kill [the virus] on the hands, and that would make things much better." Disinfectants are useful for destroying microorganisms on inert surfaces, not on living tissue, and applying disinfectants on skin has the potential to cause irritation or chemical burns. After the president's remarks, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the makers of Lysol, the World Health Organization, and other government officials issued various advisories pointing out that it is already known to be harmful to use disinfectants or ultraviolet radiation on human bodies instead of inanimate surfaces, and Birx explained that these were not under investigation as possible treatments.
After Trump's comments, "hundreds of calls" were made to the Maryland health department emergency hotline "asking if it was right to ingest Clorox or alcohol cleaning products—whether that was going to help them fight the virus", stated the Republican governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan. He called for the White House to communicate "very clearly on the facts", because people "certainly pay attention when the president of the United States is standing there giving a press conference".Other increases in calls to poison control centers were reported in the city of New York, and the states of Michigan, Tennessee, and Illinois. The state of Illinois also reported incidents where people have used detergents for sinus rinses, and gargling with a mixture of bleach and mouthwash. Officials of the state of Kansas said on 27 April that a man drank disinfectant "because of the advice he'd received", but did not clarify the source of the advice. When Trump was asked by a reporter about "a spike in people using disinfectant after your comments last week", Trump interrupted the question, stating: "I can't imagine why." The reporter continued by asking: "Do you take any responsibility?" Trump replied: "No, I don't."
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in April 2020, refused to rule out the conspiracy theory that COVID-19 escaped from Wuhan Institute of Virology during experiments and China covered it.
In May 2020, The Guardian published an article revealing that the United States government was funding a website in Armenia called Medmedia.am that was spreading COVID-19 disinformation, including discouraging Armenians from participating in future vaccination programs.
On 4 July 2020, Trump falsely stated that "99 percent" of COVID-19 cases are "totally harmless".In the same speech, Trump contradicted several public health experts by saying that the U.S. will "likely have a therapeutic and/or vaccine solution long before the end of the year". FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn declined to state whether Trump's "99 percent" statement was accurate or to say how many cases are harmless.
As the U.S. COVID-19 daily new case count increased from about 20,000 on 9 June to over 50,000 by 7 July, Trump repeatedly insisted that the case increase was a function of increased COVID-19 testing.Trump's claims were contradicted by the facts that states having increased case counts as well as those having decreased case counts had increased testing, that the positive test rate increased in all ten states with the largest case increases, and that case rate increases consistently exceeded testing rate increases in states with the most new cases.
In a recorded interview with Bob Woodward on 7 February 2020, President Trump underscored the deadliness of the coronavirus in his recount of a conversation with President Xi Jinping of China, but, in another recorded interview with Woodward on 19 March, Trump revealed that he wanted to downplay the viral outbreak in order to not create a panic.The revelation of the recordings led to criticism that Trump had deliberately downplayed the threat of the virus to the public, while he actually knew the severity of the virus.
As reported cases reached new record highs in October 2020, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy named "ending the Covid-19 pandemic" as a top accomplishment of the Trump administration.
In October 2020, Trump falsely asserted, "Our doctors get more money if someone dies from COVID."
Throughout the Trump Administration, members of the opposing political party spread misinformation or greatly exaggerated actions by the administration.
Several members of the U.S. Senate—particularly Richard Burr (R-NC) and Kelly Loeffler (R-GA)—have come under scrutiny for sales of large amounts of stocks before the financial markets crashed due to the outbreak, sparking accusations that they had insider knowledge from closed-door briefings, while many of them publicly downplayed the risks posed by the health crisis to the US public.An audio recording from 27 February revealed that Burr (Senate Intelligence Committee chairman) gave dire warnings to a small group of well-connected constituents in private, contrasted in severity to his public statements and not known to the public, that the virus is "much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history", advising against travel to Europe (13 days before official warnings, 15 days before the ban), saying schools will be likely be closed (16 days before the closure), and suggesting the military might be mobilized (learned three weeks later from the recording).
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in May 2020 falsely claimed that "clearly the Obama administration did not leave to [the Trump] administration any kind of game plan for" pandemics. Lara Trump, the president's daughter-in-law, stated that McConnell was "exactly right". However, the Obama administration had in actuality left a pandemic response playbook of 69 pages. That document explicitly cited novel coronaviruses as needing a major governmental response. Additionally, in January 2017, the Obama administration had gone through an exercise in pandemic response with incoming Trump administration members.
On January 31, 2020, Vox Media tweeted that COVID-19 would not be a deadly pandemic. They deleted the tweet on March 23, 2020, and linked to their more current coverage.
In February 2020, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the eventual chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden stated that the virus was not a serious threat to the United States.
In February 2020, New York City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot announced “We’re telling New Yorkers, go about your lives, take the subway, go out, enjoy life."Barbot also tweeted, "As we gear up to celebrate the #LunarNewYear in NYC, I want to assure New Yorkers that there is no reason for anyone to change their holiday plans, avoid the subway, or certain parts of the city because of #coronavirus."
According to The Washington Post in March 2020, Republican government members were largely influenced by series of articles by Richard A. Epstein of the Hoover Institution, who consistently played down the scale of the epidemics, ridiculed the "panic" being spread by "progressives", made a number of incorrect statements about the SARS-CoV-2 virus, misapplied and misconstrued Darwinian evolutionary theory in regards to the pandemics, and predicted "about 500 deaths at the end" of the epidemics.U.S. Representative Louie Gohmert from Texas hinted in July that he caught coronavirus because he wore a mask more often in the days leading up to his infection.
In spring 2020, Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York City, was widely criticized for providing poor and misleading information to the public.On 10 March, he said he would keep schools open and if an infected student was found to be in class it would take only a day to clean and re-open the school. De Blasio also said, "If you're under 50 and you're healthy, which is most New Yorkers, there's very little threat here." During a photo op at a public 3-1-1 call center, he told a caller there was no need to self-quarantine, despite the fact she had just returned from Italy. His instructions to the caller were subsequently reversed by city officials.
In summer 2020, then-U.S. Presidential nominee Joe Biden argued that President Trump’s response to the pandemic was to offer "denials, delays, and distractions, many of which were xenophobic".In July 2020, Biden also made various claims against the Trump administration's pandemic response that were rated misleading and inaccurate in a fact check by The New York Times.
From spring 2020 to early 2021, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration hid the number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes in an effort to downplay the death totals for the state of New York.
A 2020 study by researchers from Northeastern, Harvard, Northwestern and Rutgers universities found that older registered voters of all political orientations shared more COVID-19 stories from fake news websites on Twitter, with Republicans over the age of 65 being the most likely to share COVID-19 stories from fake news websites.
In a February 2021 opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that "most signs point to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, or WIV, as the source of Covid-19",a theory that has been described as 'extremely unlikely' by World Health Organization scientists.
Anthony Stephen Fauci is an American physician-scientist and immunologist serving as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the Chief Medical Advisor to the President.
Kayleigh McEnany is an American conservative political commentator and author who served as the 33rd White House press secretary for the Trump administration from April 2020 to January 2021. She currently serves as an on-air contributor for Fox News.
The COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus pandemic, is an ongoing global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The novel virus was first identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019; a lockdown in Wuhan and other cities in surrounding Hubei failed to contain the outbreak, and it quickly spread to other parts of mainland China and around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January 2020, and a pandemic on 11 March 2020. Multiple variants of the virus have emerged and become dominant in many countries since 2021, with the Alpha, Beta, and Delta variants being the most virulent. As of 26 October 2021, more than 244 million cases and 4.95 million deaths have been confirmed, making it one of the deadliest pandemics in history.
COVID-19 misinformation refers to any kind of subject about the COVID-19 pandemic that has resulted in misinformation and conspiracy theories about the scale of the pandemic and the origin, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the disease. False information, including intentional disinformation, has been spread through social media, text messaging, and mass media. False information has been propagated by celebrities, politicians, and other prominent public figures. Multiple countries have passed laws against "fake news", and thousands of people have been arrested for spreading COVID-19 misinformation. The spread of COVID-19 misinformation by governments has also been significant.
The COVID-19 pandemic in the United States is part of the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019. Since January 2020, 45,547,158 confirmed cases have been reported with 737,342 deaths, the most of any country, and the twentieth-highest per capita worldwide. As many infections have gone undetected, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that, as of May 2021, there could be a total 120.2 million infections in the United States, or more than a third of the total population. COVID-19 is the deadliest pandemic in U.S. history; it was the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2020, behind heart disease and cancer. From 2019 to 2020, U.S. life expectancy dropped by 3 years for Hispanic Americans, 2.9 years for African Americans, and 1.2 years for white Americans. These effects have persisted as U.S. deaths due to COVID-19 in 2021 exceeded those in 2020.
The first cases of the COVID-19 pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 in North America were reported in the United States on 23 January 2020. Cases were reported in all North American countries after Saint Kitts and Nevis confirmed a case on 25 March, and in all North American territories after Bonaire confirmed a case on 16 April.
The COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil is part of the ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. The virus was confirmed to have spread to Brazil on 25 February 2020, when a man from São Paulo who had traveled to Italy tested positive for the virus. The disease had spread to every federative unit of Brazil by 21 March. On 19 June 2020, the country reported its one millionth case and nearly 49,000 reported deaths. One estimate of under-reporting was 22.62% of total reported Covid-19 mortality in 2020.
There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in North Korea. In January 2020, the North Korean government began taking extensive measures to block the outbreak, including quarantine facilities, and strict travel restrictions. In March and April 2020, the Asia Times and 38 North reported that these measures seemed largely successful.
The COVID-19 pandemic in Nicaragua is part of the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. The virus was shown to have spread to Nicaragua when the first case, a Nicaraguan citizen who had returned to the country from Panama, was confirmed on 18 March 2020.
The White House Coronavirus Task Force was the United States Department of State task force during the Trump administration that "coordinate[d] and overs[aw] the administration's efforts to monitor, prevent, contain, and mitigate the spread" of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Also referred to as the President's Coronavirus Task Force, it was established on January 29, 2020, with Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar as chair. On February 26, 2020, U.S. vice president Mike Pence was named to chair the task force, and Deborah Birx was named the response coordinator.
The following is a timeline of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States during 2020.
The World Health Organization is a leading organization involved in the global coordination for mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic, within the broader United Nations response to the pandemic caused by the emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 in late 2019.
Planning and preparing for pandemics has happened in countries and international organizations. The World Health Organization writes recommendations and guidelines, though there is no sustained mechanism to review countries' preparedness for epidemics and their rapid response abilities. National action depends on national governments. In 2005–2006, prior to the 2009 swine flu pandemic and during the decade following it, the governments in the United States, France, UK, and others managed strategic health equipment stocks, but they often reduced stocks after the 2009 pandemic in order to reduce costs.
The Donald Trump administration communicated in various ways during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, including via social media, interviews, and press conferences with the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Opinion polling conducted in mid-April 2020 indicated that less than half of Americans trusted health information provided by Trump and that they were more inclined to trust local government officials, state government officials, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci.
The COVID-19 pandemic in American Samoa is part of the ongoing worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. The COVID-19 pandemic was confirmed to have reached the unincorporated United States territory of American Samoa on 9 November 2020.
The federal government of the United States initially responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country with various declarations of emergency, some of which led to travel and entry restrictions, and the formation of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. As the pandemic progressed in the U.S. and throughout the rest of the world, the U.S. government began issuing recommendations regarding the response by state and local governments, as well as social distancing measures and workplace hazard controls. State governments play a primary role in adopting policies to address the pandemic. Following the closure of most businesses throughout a number of U.S. states, President Donald Trump announced the mobilization of the National Guard in the most affected areas.
During his term as president of the United States (2017–2021), Donald Trump and his administration repeatedly politicized science by pressuring or overriding health and science agencies to change their reporting and recommendations so as to conform to his policies and public comments. This was particularly true with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, but also included suppressing research on climate change and weakening or eliminating environmental regulations.
During the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, many people began to spread false or un-confirmed data and information. This included politicians and other government officials from administrations in several countries. Misinformation about the virus includes its origin, how it spreads, and methods of preventing and curing the disease. Some downplayed the threat of the pandemic, and made false statements about preventative measures, death rates and testing within their own countries. Some have also spread COVID-19 vaccine misinformation. Changing policies also created confusion and contributed to the spread of misinformation. For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) originally discouraged use of face masks by the general public in early 2020, advising "If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection," although the WHO later changed their advice to encourage public wearing of face masks.
The United States' response to the COVID-19 pandemic with consists of various measures by the medical community; the federal, state, and local governments; the military; and the private sector. The public response has been highly polarized, with partisan divides being observed and a number of concurrent protests and unrest complicating the response.