Fielding tough questions from voters, President Donald Trump denied during a televised town hall Tuesday that he had played down the threat of the coronavirus earlier this year.
This was one of many lies told by the president, who sought to deflect criticism of how he has handled the pandemic, even as the death toll reaches about 200,000 people in the United States.
Taped at the National Constitution Center here, Trump was asked compelling questions from an audience of just 21 undecided voters to comply with state and local coronavirus regulations.
At the town hall, Trump contradicted his admission to journalist Bob Woodward that he was deliberately “playing it down” when discussing the threat of COVID-19 to Americans earlier this year. Despite audio of his comments being released, Trump said: “Yeah, well, I didn’t downplay it. I actually, in many ways, I up-played it, in terms of action.”
“My action was very strong,” Trump added. “I’m not looking to be dishonest. I don’t want people to panic.”
When pressed on his administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and why he doesn’t more aggressively promote the use of masks to reduce the spread of the disease, Trump once again distorted the truth.
“There are people that don’t think masks are good,” Trump said.
Who are these people that don’t think masks are good?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health experts strongly urge the use of masks.
According to the CDC: Cloth face coverings may help prevent people who have the novel coronavirus from spreading it to others and are most likely to reduce the spread of coronavirus when they are widely used by people in public settings.
“Cloth face coverings are recommended as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the cloth face covering coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice,” according to the CDC website.
On April 3, the CDC recommended that nearly everyone wear a facial covering in public and in areas where social distancing isn’t possible.
The Lancet medical journal found in a review of over 100 studies that “face mask use could result in a large reduction in risk of infection.”
The fact-checking website Politifact rated as “Mostly False” Trump’s sweeping claim that the Obama administration left him a “stockpile [of emergency supplies] with a cupboard that was bare.”
Trump also rejected the idea that his efforts to overturn the Affordable Care Act would undermine current protections for people with preexisting conditions. However, ABC host George Stephanopulous correctly pointed out that Trump hadn’t yet put forward a replacement plan with protections in place.
As Politifact correctly points out, Trump and Republicans for years have tried to get rid of the health care law, without an alternative that would maintain the same protections for people with preexisting conditions.
Trump also sought to diminish the race problem in America. “Well, I hope there’s not a race problem,” Trump said when asked about his campaign rhetoric, obviously ignoring months of civil unrest over police brutality and the historical injustices carried out against Black Americans.
In the town hall, Trump spread the usual lies, distortions and exaggerations that he makes during campaign rallies. However, this time he was questioned by local residents who were not letting him get away with it.