“I wanted to always play it down”

Written by SK Ashby

From the very beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Trump has publicly and loudly downplayed the threat of the virus. He said it would "disappear" like a "miracle" and that cases would drop all the way down to zero before they exploded to over 6 million. He also repeatedly refused to mandate masks or wear one himself, but it's not because he didn't understand the threat.

Trump spoke to Bob Woodward earlier this year and explicitly said the coronavirus is an airborne threat to both old and young people and it's far more deadly than the flu.

This was all the way back in February and March of this year.

“You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” Trump said in a Feb. 7 call. “And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu.”

“This is deadly stuff,” the president repeated for emphasis.

At that time, Trump was telling the nation that the virus was no worse than a seasonal flu, predicting it would soon disappear, and insisting that the U.S. government had it totally under control. It would be several weeks before he would publicly acknowledge that the virus was no ordinary flu and that it could be transmitted through the air.

There are tapes.

"I wanted to always play it down," Trump told Woodward on March 19, even as he had declared a national emergency over the virus days earlier. "I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic."

It was always fair to say Trump was largely if not exclusively responsible for our failed response to the pandemic, but now we can say without any doubt that our failed response was intentional.

The Trump White House didn't take it seriously because Trump himself deliberately chose not to. It wasn't an accident. It was a conscious decision.

At least 200,000 Americans will have died by next week, among so many other things that have gone terribly wrong because of Trump. People have lost their jobs, homes, businesses, and loved ones. My own family has struggled with losing jobs, anxiety, and isolation.

This is all I can think about now.