President Donald Trump said he couldn’t have done anything more to assist the COVID-19 response in the U.S. than he already has during a Tuesday town hall with ABC News.
The exchange came in the final minutes of Trump’s town hall, hosted by ABC News host and former Clinton staffer George Stephanopoulos. An audience member asked Trump what the greatest challenge of his presidency has been, and what he may have learned from it. Trump responded that coronavirus has been the greatest challenge, saying he has personally known six people who have died from the pandemic.
“Could you have done more to stop it?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“I don’t think so. I think what I did like closing up the country I think I saved two maybe two and a half million, maybe more than that, lives. I really don’t think so. I think we did a very good job. I don’t know if that’s been recognized,” he said.
ABC’s @GStephanopoulos asks about the spread of Covid-19: “Could you have done more to stop it?
Trump: “I don’t think so.” pic.twitter.com/pTF2BsWVXj
— Bloomberg QuickTake (@QuickTake) September 16, 2020
Trump is just days out from a media firestorm that sprang from Washington Post Columnist Bob Woodward’s report that Trump admitted to downplaying the severity of the coronavirus in early 2020. Trump has argued he did so to avoid panic.
Trump has touted his early decision to ban travel from China as saving lives, and blames China’s falsified data on coronavirus for a slower global response. Woodward says Trump admitted he knew COVID-19 was far more severe than the seasonal flu in February, yet Trump repeatedly compared the two diseases in public through late Spring and into summer. (RELATED: Trump Expects ‘8 Or 9’ More Arab Countries To Join Israel Peace Agreement, Including Saudi Arabia)
To date, nearly 200,000 Americans have died from coronavirus, and experts have said the Trump administration bungled the earliest days of the pandemic with a lack of robust testing procedures.
When the Trump administration suggested in August that asymptomatic people do not need to be tested, medical groups were quick to respond.
“Months into this pandemic, we know COVID-19 is spread by asymptomatic people,” Susan Bailey, president of the American Medical Associated, said in a statement. “Suggesting that people without symptoms, who have known exposure to COVID-positive individuals, do not need testing is a recipe for community spread and more spikes in coronavirus.”