President Donald Trump’s tone and messaging at Tuesday’s coronavirus task force press briefing marked a sharp departure from his previous statements regarding the virus and seasonal influenza.
Dating back to February, Trump had repeatedly compared coronavirus to the flu, noting that the latter routinely kills up to 70,000 Americans every year, but on Tuesday he said coronavirus is not “like the flu. It’s vicious.” (RELATED: Trump Extends Social Distancing Guidelines By Another 30 Days)
In a now infamous tweet in early March, the president noted that in 2019, “37,000 Americans died from the common Flu.”
“It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on,” he continued. “At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!”
So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 9, 2020
Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx both predicted Tuesday that with full mitigation strategies, including the extended social distancing guidelines for the month of April, America should still expect to see between 100,000-200,000 coronavirus deaths.
The president admitted those figures were “sobering” when pressed by reporters at the briefing.