Gage Skidmore / Flickr; Stephen Melkisethian / Flickr; Caroline Amenabar / NPR
With near-daily briefings from the task force, President Trump has sent an ever-evolving message to the American public about the coronavirus pandemic.
The constant is inconsistency. Sometimes, he was in tune with public health experts who advised him on the response and on the actions initiated by his administration. But often he has undermined or even contradicted his experts or White House policy.
Trump has gone from minimizing risk from the start, over-selling the availability of test kits, encouraging strict measures of social distancing, wondering if these measures were causing too much economic and emotional hardship. He claimed “full” authority, then insisted that it was really up to the states to manage the response.
As the message from public health experts got more and more serious, Trump often accentuated the positive, saying that he was trying to give hope to Americans.
While Trump’s partial ban on travelers from China is believed by many to have saved time for the United States to prepare for, coronavirus test failures have obscured the severity of the epidemic here, and hampered efforts to contain its spread. By the time the deadly scope of the virus emerged, it was too late for containment, and the halting of mitigation measures had taken a heavy economic toll.
Below, we compare Trump’s remarks and actions to those of his administration: