The year 2020 will become known as the year of the Covid-19 pandemic. It will also mark Donald Trump’s worst year as president–the year he ignored the warnings, failed to listen to experts, dismissed and downplayed a deadly contagion until it was too late, and then tried to ignore it as the economy tumbled and he fought to be reelected while American deaths mounted and he blamed everyone but himself for his failures. This timeline of the Covid-19 pandemic and Trump’s response to it paints an alarming picture of just how badly the president miscalculated and, when the country needed a wise, compassionate, and decisive leader, what we got instead was a buffoon whose failed leadership caused needless deaths and economic destruction.
2017 Trump ignores the pandemic playbook and pandemic role play prepared by the Obama administration and given to his incoming team after the 2016 presidential election
2018 Trump fires the pandemic response team and cut the CDC’s Budget
2019 Trump ignores Intelligence warnings about the outbreak in China
12/18/19 House Impeaches Trump
12/31/19 China alerts WHO of virus outbreak
1/1/20 Trump refuses WHO test kits and instead denies the seriousness of Covid-19, even mocking it
1/3/20 White House, CDC and NSC informed by China of their outbreak
1/6/20 Countries around the globe begin to take action
1/7/20 Trump warned by US intelligence agencies of the dangers of this new virus
1/8/20 First CDC warning to the White House and public
1/9/20 Trump campaign rally
1/14/20 HSS drafts the Defense Production Act for President’s signature
1/14/20 Human-to-human transmission revealed in China
1/14/20 Trump campaign rally
1/16/20 House sends impeachment articles to Senate
1/17/20 CDC calls Covid-19 a low risk for Americans.
1/18/20 Testing centralized; begins in CDC labs ONLY- 4 tests. Other labs are forbidden to test
1/18/20 Trump golfs
1/19/20 Trump golfs
1/20/20 First case of corona virus in Washington State
1/22/20 Trump: “We’re not worried about a pandemic. We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. Not a pandemic. It’s going to be just fine.”
1/23/20 China fatality rate at 4%, locks down 11 million Chinese.
1/24/20 Trump praises China instead of taking action to prepare for prevention, testing and PPE. Obama playbook ignored. Instead, Trump systemically undercut or dissolved the systems, organizations, personnel and plans to address a pandemic crises.
1/28/20 Trump campaign rally
1/29/20 5 confirmed cases in the U.S.
1/29/20 Peter Navarro warns that half a million could die in U.S.
1/30/20 HHS Secretary Azar warns Trump of catastrophic effects in the virus
1/30/20 Trump campaign rally
1/31/20 820 tests to date—still in CDC labs only. Despite numerous daily intelligence briefings during the month, Trump ignores the warnings. WHO declares a Public Health Emergency.
2/1/20 Trump golfs
2/2/20 Trump: “We pretty much shut it down coming in from China.” Travel restrictions from China implemented.
2/5/20 Senate votes to acquit. Then takes a five-day weekend.
2/6/20 11 confirmed cases in the U.S.
2/10/20 During a Trump campaign rally, he says, “They’re working hard. Looks like by April it all miraculously goes away.”
2/12/20 Dow Jones closes at an all-time high of 29,551.42
2/13/20 13 confirmed cases in the U.S.
2/15/20 Trump golfs
2/19/20 Trump campaign rally
2/20/20 Trump campaign rally
2/21/20 Trump campaign rally
2/24/20 Trump: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. The stock market is starting to look very good to me!”
2/25/20 Trump: “CDC and my administration are doing a GREAT job of handling Coronavirus.”
2/25/20 Trump: “I think that’s a problem that’s going to go away. They have studied it. They know very much. In fact, we’re very close to a vaccine.”
2/26/20 Trump: “The 15 (cases in the US) within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.” He puts Pence in charge of the coronavirus task force.
2/26/20 Trump: “We’re going very substantially down, not up.” Also “This is a flu. This is like a flu”; “Now, you treat this like a flu”; “It’s a little like the regular flu that we have flu shots for. And we’ll essentially have a flu shot for this in a fairly quick manner.”
2/26/20 Trump: “Because of all we’ve done, the risk to the American people remains very low.”
2/27/20 Trump: “One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”
2/27/20 16 confirmed cases in the U.S.
2/28/20 Trump: “We’re ordering a lot of supplies. We’re ordering a lot of, uh, elements that frankly we wouldn’t be ordering unless it was something like this. But we’re ordering a lot of different elements of medical.”
2/28/20 At a campaign rally, Trump says, “So far we have lost nobody to coronavirus in the United States.” His adoring crowd cheers. He says that Covid-19 is the new #DemHoax.
2/29/20 2,434 tests in February at CDC labs; 754 at Public Health labs. FDA loosens regulations on medicine/vaccine testing.
2/29/20 68 confirmed cases in the U.S.; first death is recorded.
2/29/20 Clinical labs are finally allowed to test. Over a month of critical response wasted. (April 18 Quote from The Lancet, a respected medical journal: “During the brief window when containment of the virus might have been a possibility, the CDC retained control of all testing, preventing external academic and commercial test development, and processing only about 100 samples per day. The US Food and Drug Administration has also created barriers through its requisite approval scheme for all diagnostics.”)
3/2/20 Trump: “You take a solid flu vaccine, you don’t think that could have an impact, or much of an impact, on corona?”
3/2/20 Trump: “A lot of things are happening, a lot of very exciting things are happening and they’re happening very rapidly.”
3/4/20 Trump: “If we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work — some of them go to work, but they get better.”
3/5/20 Trump: “I NEVER said people that are feeling sick should go to work. The United State has, as of now, only 129 cases and 11 deaths. We are working very hard to keep these numbers as low as possible”
3/6/20 214 confirmed cases in the U.S.
3/6/20 Trump: “I think we’re doing a really good job in this country at keeping it down. A tremendous job at keeping it down.”
3/6/20 Trump: “Anybody right now, and yesterday, anybody that needs a test gets a test. They’re there. And the tests are beautiful…. the tests are all perfect like the letter was perfect. The transcription was perfect. Right? This was not as perfect as that but pretty good.”
3/6/20 Trump: “I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it. Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for president.”
3/6/20 Trump doesn’t want a cruise ship in San Francisco to allow infected Americans to leave the ship. Trump: “I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault.”
3/7/20 Trump golfs
3/8/20 Trump golfs
3/8/20 Trump: “We have a perfectly coordinated and fine-tuned plan at the White House for our attack on Coronavirus.”
3/9/20 Trump: “This blindsided the world. No one saw this coming.”
3/11/20 WHO declares Covid-19 a pandemic. Trump and Fox news continue to call Covid-19 a hoax and fake news while the U.S. reaches 1,285 confirmed cases. Trump declares: “This is the most comprehensive and aggressive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history.”
3/12/20 Trump again calls Covid-19 a “foreign virus” and blames Europe for its spread to the U.S. He imposes a ban on travel from most European countries. Schools across the country begin closing and the NBA cancels its season.
3/13/20 1,896 confirmed cases in the U.S.
3/13/20 Trump declares a state of emergency Some states begin restrictions on events and experts advise social distancing.
3/14/20 With the addition of clinical labs, a total of 10,000 tests have been conducted in US. South Korea is conducting 10,000 a day with no nationwide shutdown.
3/16/20 After more than two weeks of urging by epidemiologists and medical experts, Trump finally urges safe distancing. States begin to lock down. Broadway closes. In Europe, countries are closing their borders and banning large gatherings.
3/17/20 Trump: “This is a bad one. This is a very bad one. This is a pandemic,” he tells reporters, “I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”
3/18/20 Trump: “It’s not racist at all. No. Not at all. It comes from China. That’s why. It comes from China. I want to be accurate.”
3/18/20 The U.S. death toll to Covid-19 passes 100, and the infections have spread to all 50 states
3/19/20 A record 281,000 Americans file for unemployment this week
3/20/20 18,747 confirmed cases in the U.S. When asked by a reporter what he would say to Americans who are scared right now, Trump replies, “I say you’re a terrible reporter.”
3/20/20 Trump announces that he will invoke parts of the Defense Production Act to increase the production of ventilators
3/23/20 Dow Jones closes at 18,591.93, its low point since 2/12/20. The Dow has dropped by 37% in just over a month. Trump panics at the devastation to the economy. Trump: “We can’t let the cure be worse than the problem. America will soon be reopened for business.” There are 43,847 confirmed cases in the U.S., 786 deaths, and now more than 100 people dying every day.
3/24/20 Trump says we are ending our historic battle with the invisible enemy. 53,736 confirmed cases; 1,011 deaths.
3/25/20 3.3 million Americans file for unemployment. Congress agrees on a $2 trillion stimulus to rescue the economy. Wall Street surges on the news.
3/26/20 US becomes world leader in Covid-19 cases. At a G7 video conference meeting, a joint statement is scrapped after the U.S. insists on calling Covid the “Wuhan virus.”
3/27/20 103,321 confirmed cases in the U.S. Trump signs the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. The U.S. is now officially the global epicenter of the pandemic with more than 82,000 confirmed cases—a number that is rising rapidly.
3/30/20 Trump predicts that the country will be fully open for business by Easter and says that a “win” is near. Daily coronavirus briefings have replaced Trump’s rallies, and he brags about his TV ratings. Meanwhile, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci says as many as 200,000 Americans could die from the virus even if the country takes aggressive action now.
3/31/20 164,620 confirmed cases in the U.S. and 3,170 deaths; Trump pushes untested drugs, Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin.
3/31/20 Resource acquisition and distribution is finally centralized, but only partially, allowing FEMA to steal resources ordered by states. Testing is far below requirements due to regulations, lack of equipment, and money.
4/1/20 Trump’s White House coronavirus briefings replace his rallies as his daily dose of public exposure. Drs. Fauci and Brix become fixtures during the briefings.
4/2/20 Nearly one million cases globally. U.S. hospitals running out of ventilators, masks, and PPE as hospitalizations increase dramatically.
4/2/20 6.6 million Americans file for unemployment
4/3/20 277,205 confirmed cases in the U.S. In the absence of a federally coordinated response, states scramble to find essential medical equipment. Massachusetts turns to the New England Patriots to fly masks in from China.
4/5/20 337,072 confirmed cases; 12,375 deaths. As cases and deaths rise dramatically, Trump says, “We’re starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. We can never be happy when we see so many people dying, but we’re going to be very happy at the job we did to keep the deaths down to an absolute minimum.”
4/6/20 374,328 confirmed cases in the U.S. He continues to tout hydroxychloroquine, although medical experts say it is unproven and could be dangerous.
4/7/20 One American is dying of Covid-19 every 45 seconds
4/8/20 Trump says he will freeze funding for the WHO, which he falsely accuses of downplaying the pandemic. Minutes later he denies saying what he just said.
4/9/20 Most people, even those with symptoms, still cannot get tested. FEMA is diverting/stealing tests, PPE, and Ventilators that states ordered and purchased.
4/9/20 463,600+ confirmed cases in the U.S.; 16,500+ deaths
4/10/20 As mass burials are taking place in New York City, Trump says he wants a “big bang” reopening of the entire country on May 1.
4/13/20 578,178 confirmed cases in the U.S.; 23,401 deaths. Trump: “The president of the United States calls the shots. If we weren’t here for the states, you would have had a problem in this country like you’ve never seen before.”
4/14/20 Trump denounces state governors who say they will reopen their states on their own terms. Trump declares, “My authority is total!” NY’s Governor Cuomo remarks: “We don’t have a king.”
4/14/20 The Treasury Department announces that stimulus checks will be delayed while they add Donald Trump’s name to the checks.
4/14/20 CDC sends a 60-page “Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework” to the White House, where it is shelved, releasing only 17 pages of excerpts that support Trump’s campaign to reopen the economy at all costs, even human lives. Trump calls those dying of Covid-19 “warriors.”
4/16/20 667,592 confirmed cases in the U.S. 34,844 deaths. Trump’s advisors tell him that if the governors call the shots on when to reopen their states, then he can’t be blamed if it’s too early. He reverses course and says governors have the authority.
4/17/20 Trump encourages his base to protest state governors who will not violate his own guidelines for reopening their states
4/18/20 As protests over the lock down rise up across the country, Trump jumps on the bandwagon and tweets: “LIBERATE MINNESOTA LIBERATE MICHIGAN LIBERATE VIRGINIA,” although those states do not meet federal guidelines for reopening
4/16/20 758,809 confirmed cases in the U.S.; 40,945 deaths. Trump: “We would have had millions of deaths instead of it looks like we’ll be at the 60,000 mark.”
4/21/20 Trump temporarily suspends all immigration, while the feds continue to deport illegal immigrants, including many who have Covid-19
4/21/20 Republican governor Kemp of Georgia begins easing restrictions, despite expert advice not to and rising Covid-19 infection rates in his state
4/22/20 Trump backs away from his ban on immigration
4/23/20 After urging states to reopen, Trump criticizes George Republican Governor Kemp for opening George, saying, “It’s just too soon.” CDC Director Redfield says the virus will return in the fall. Trump says Redfield was “misquoted,” but Redfield says he wasn’t. Dr. Fauci agrees with Redfield and incurs Trump’s wrath.
4/24/20 During his daily coronavirus briefing, Trump muses on whether drinking Lysol disinfectant or somehow shining ultraviolet light inside the body might kill the virus. There is immediate backlash and the Lysol company says, “Don’t do it.”
4/26/20 The U.S. nears 1 million Covid-19 cases. More then 200,000 people have died globally.
4/28/20 1,012,582 confirmed cases in the U.S.; 58,355 deaths. Trump: “I think what happens is it’s going to go away and whether it comes back in the fall we’ll be able to handle it. We are very prepared to handle it.”
4/29/20 VP Pence visits the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis and refuses to wear a mask, although the Clinic requires it. Trump announces a plan to expand testing, but the overwhelmed states can’t find the equipment, and Trump says the feds aren’t responsible for providing the equipment, while proclaiming that he is a wartime president and is in charge.
4/30/20 Dr. Fauci hails remdesivir, an experimental drug that could speed up recovery time in people infected with Covid-19.
4/30/20 During April, confirmed cases in the U.S. exceed 1.04 million; 60,966 deaths. Total Tests completed by 4/30/20: 6.2 million, which is approximately 2% of a total population of 331 million. Trump blames WHO and threatens to pull funding on 4/14. He also blames the Chinese for not informing the world about the virus (which they did on 12/31/19). And he blames Obama and the nation’s governors. Demonstrations against the lockdown occur in some states. Trump continues his campaign to prevent oversight of his pandemic response by bullying and intimidating or firing key officials and replacing them with his unqualified cronies.
5/1/20 More than 30 million Americans have filed unemployment claims. Food banks are running out of food as demand spikes. The Federal Reserve says the U.S. economy is in its worst shape ever. More than half U.S. states will reopen partially by week’s end despite not meeting White House guidelines for reopening
5/2/20 The White House bars Dr. Fauci from testifying before a House subcommittee. Trump increasingly disgruntled at Fauci not going along with the party line.
5/4/20 Trump admits that the U.S. death toll could reach 80,000 or 100,000, but praises his administration’s response to the pandemic while urging more states to reopen.
5/6/20 As the U.S. death toll passes 60,000, Trump says he’ll disband the coronavirus task force by the end of the month and pushes hard for the country to reopen.
5/7/20 33.5 million Americans have filed for unemployment. Trump’s coronavirus task force now focused on reopening the country.
5/8/20 White House rejects a CDC report on how to reopen safely, says the report is “too prescriptive.” More than 33 million have filed for unemployment. The death toll passes 75,000.
5/8/20 1,283,929 confirmed cases in the U.S.; 77,180 deaths. Trump: “We may be talking about 95,000 people ultimately.”
5/9/20 Three White House aides have Covid-19
5/12/20 Attorney General Barr drops charges against Michael Flynn. Trump says, “We have met the moment and we have prevailed” as U.S. deaths pass 80,000. He claims that anyone who wants a test can get one, which is untrue.
5/13/20 Dr. Fauci warns that opening the economy too quickly could cause an uncontrollable outbreak, leading to unnecessary suffering and death. He particularly warns about reopening schools. Trump: “To me it’s not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to schools.”
5/14/20 1,417,774 confirmed cases; 85,898 deaths. Dr. Rick Bright testifies before Congress: “Without clear planning and implementation of the steps that I and other experts have outlined, 2020 will be the darkest winter in modern history.” Trump: “We can say what you want about the flu, but I’ve never lost anybody to the flu. People are dying anyway.”
5/15/20 The U.S. surpasses 10 million people tested for Covid-19 (barely 3% of the population). Trump calls testing “overrated” and in one of his most inane statements yet says, “If we didn’t do any testing, we would have very few cases.”
5/16/20 1,443,397 confirmed cases in the U.S.; 87,568 deaths.
5/16/20 Dr. Rick Bright, fired director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority cites the reasons why the U.S. leads the world in Covid-19 deaths. In testimony before Congress, Bright’s key points are:
- Refusal to heed early warnings from abroad
- Refusal to listen t expert advice from within the U.S. healthcare system
- Punishing those seeking to implement a timely strategy
- Lying to the American public about the pandemic
- Failing to provide enough tests soon enough
- Failing to produce adequate medical equipment soon enough
- Refusing to get samples of the virus necessary for work on vaccines and therapeutics
- Prioritizing contracts for companies connected to Trump or the Kushner family
- Failing to implement enforceable social distancing and face protection protocols
- Failing to lead by example (i.e., Trump and other federal officials refusing to practice social distancing and wearing masks)
- Failing to formulate a coordinated national response to the pandemic
5/19/20 1,508,957 confirmed cases in the U.S.; 90,369 deaths. Trump announces that he’s been taking hydroxychloroquine, the unproven anti-malarial drug the FDA warns could cause heart problems and should not be taken outside of a clinical setting.
5/20/20 Despite dismissing testing 5 days ago, Trump says that the U.S. having the highest number of Covid-19 cases is “a badge of honor” because it means the country is testing more people. “It’s a great tribute to the testing and all the work that a lot of professionals have done.”
5/21/20 Researchers from Colombia University say that if the U.S. had locked down just two weeks earlier than it did, 84% of the deaths could have been avoided. Global Covid-19 cases surpass 5 million.
5/22/20 1,577,758 confirmed cases in the U.S.; 94,729 deaths.
5/23/20 Trump golfs as U.S. deaths near 100,000. Medical journal The Lancet reports that hydroxychloroquine not only doesn’t prevent Covid-19, it has harmful side effects, including death. But sales of the drug have soared after Trump endorsed it and said he is taking it.
5/24/20 Trump declares that churches are “essential” and demands that they reopen. He says he’ll override governors who refuse. Church attendance soars as a result; however, Trump skips church to go golfing again as the U.S. death toll climbs
5/25/20 Trump continues to refuse to wear a mask, even when all around him are required to do so.
5/25/20 In Minneapolis, George Floyd, a black man, is murdered by a white police officer, sparking nationwide protests.
5/26/20 1,643,499 confirmed cases in the U.S.; 97,722 deaths. Trump: “We would have had anywhere from ten to twenty or twenty-five times the number of deaths if we didn’t act the way we did. And also if we didn’t act swiftly.”
5/27/20 1,681,418 confirmed cases in the U.S.; 98,929 deaths.
5/27/20 As the U.S. nears 100,000 deaths from Covid-19, Trump holds the last daily televised briefing with the coronavirus task force. After this date, he shifts his emphasis from fighting the virus to reopening the country—despite the rising death toll across the country.
5/28/20 U.S. passes a grim milestone: 1,699,933 confirmed cases and 100,442 deaths. In four months, Covid-199 has killed more Americans than in the wars of Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan combined.
5/29/20 Protests occur in dozens of U.S. cities over the continued lockdown. Covid fatigue is setting in.
5/30/20 Trump cuts U.S. ties with the WHO.
5/31/20 1,770,384 confirmed cases in the U.S.; 103,781 deaths. Continuing large protests over George Floyd’s murder raise concerns about the Covid-19 infection rate increasing among protesters, who are shouting, not remaining socially distant, and, for the most part, not wearing masks.
6/2/20 Trump hasn’t spoken to Dr. Anthony Fauci in two weeks.
6/3/20 1,831,821 confirmed cases in the U.S.; 106.181 deaths. Infections spiking in Latin America.
6/5/20 1,872,660 confirmed cases in the U.S.; 108,211 deaths. Nearly 43 million Americans have filed for unemployment; the unemployment rate nears 20%.
6/8/20 New Zealand says it is free of Covid-19—no active cases. 1,942,363 confirmed cases in the U.S.; 110,514 deaths.
6/9/20 Nearly half of U.S. states reporting an increase in cases since the lockdowns have been lifted. The U.S. officially entered a recession in February 2020.
6/10/20 U.S. exceeds 2 million infected with Covid-19: 2,000,464; 112,924 deaths.
6/11/20 Trump declares victory over Covid-19, saying that the virus is now reduced to embers and ashes. The data says otherwise. Pence tweets a photo of himself with campaign workers—none wearing masks and no social distancing.
6/12/20 Trump golfs. He plans to resume political rallies and will require attendees to sign a waiver that they won’t sue his campaign or the venue if they become infected.
6/13/20 Trump golfs again. 2,048,986 confirmed cases in the U.S.; 114,669 deaths.
6/14/20 Pence praises the steady decline Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths across the country; however, the rate of infections in many states is climbing. 2.074,526 confirmed cases in the U.S; 115,436 deaths.
6/15/20 New York state lifts its lockdown; many people ignoring safe distancing and mask guidelines.
6/16/20 Hong Kong, Singapore, and Beijing imposing new lockdowns as infections climb. States in the west, southwest, and south see an uptick in cases after restrictions are eased too soon. 2,114,026 confirmed cases in the U.S.; 116,127 deaths.
6/17/20 The number of new Covid-19 cases surged in some states–growing by more than 50% in ten states. Pence says that the number of cases in Oklahoma has dropped precipitously–which is not true. In fact, the number of new cases reached a high, including in Tulsa, where Trump is holding a rally on Saturday.
6/18/20 2,163,290 confirmed cases, but scientists suspect the actual number may be much higher; 117,717 deaths.
6/19/20 Trump says the virus is “fading away.” More than 700 more Americans die from Covid-19 in the past 24 hours.
6/20/20 Trump holds a campaign rally in Tulsa, claiming beforehand that more than a million people wanted tickets. The actual crowd is just over 6,000 in an arena that holds 19,000. Many empty seats. An outdoor overflow rally where 40,000 are expected is cancelled when only 25 people show up. In the arena, there is little social distancing and few masks. Eight Trump staffers test positive for the virus, along with two secret service agents.