President Donald Trump has sought to minimise the risks of the coronavirus since it first emerged and has contradicted US public health experts as he pushed to reopen the US economy.
On the campaign trail, Trump has mocked his Democratic rival Joe Biden for excessive caution and warned voters Biden would seek to shut down the US economy to control the virus.
Now Trump’s comments discounting the risks of COVID-19 are coming under new scrutiny following disclosure he and his wife Melania Trump have tested positive for the virus.
Here is a timeline of key statements by Trump about the coronavirus:
September 29: Trump says he wears a mask ‘when needed’ and sees ‘no negative effect’ from rallies
In his first debate with Democratic rival, Joe Biden, Trump said he wore a mask “when needed”, pulling one out from his breast pocket.
The US president disparaged Biden’s caution in adhering to social-distancing rules, saying: “We’ve had no negative effect” from the large public campaign rallies.
“Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from them, and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen,” Trump said of Biden.
President Donald Trump holds up his facemask during the first presidential debate at Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio. [Julio Cortez/AP Photo]September 16: Trump says US deaths would be lower without ‘blue states’
Trump claimed his administration had saved 1.5 million lives by keeping US deaths about “100,000 to 240,000”.
“If you take the blue states out, we’re at a level that I don’t think anybody in the world would be at. We’re really at a very low level.” Blue states was a reference to US states governed by the Democrats.
President Donald Trump claimed his administration has saved US lives during a news conference at the White House in Washington, DC [Evan Vucci/AP Photo]September 14: Not concerned about contagion at indoor rally In Nevada
In an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper, Trump said he was not afraid of getting the coronavirus from speaking at an indoor rally.
“I’m on a stage and it’s very far away. And so I’m not at all concerned.”
“I’m more concerned about how close you are, to be honest,” Trump said to the interviewer.
President Donald Trump spoke at an indoor rally in a warehouse in Henderson, Nevada, on September 13 [Andrew Harnik/AP Photo]September 4: Disputes experts, says vaccine coming before election day
“We remain on track to deliver a vaccine before the end of the year and maybe even before November 1st,” Trump said at a White House briefing.
“We think we can probably have it sometime during the month of October.”
August 3: ‘It is what it is’, Trump tells Axios in interview on HBO
“They are dying. That’s true. And you – it is what it is,” Trump told an Axios news outlet reporter who quoted the death toll from the virus in the US.
“But that doesn’t mean we aren’t doing everything we can. It’s under control as much as you can control it.”
July 19: US has lowest ‘mortality rate’ in the world
“When you talk about mortality rates, I think it’s the opposite. I think we have one of the lowest mortality rates in the world,” Trump said, arguing with broadcaster Fox News’ Sunday host Chris Wallace.
“I heard we have one of the lowest, maybe the lowest mortality rate anywhere in the world.”
July 7: US is ‘in a good place’ and will be in ‘very good shape’
“I think we are in a good place,” Trump told a TV interviewer, after breaking with Dr Anthony Fauci who had warned on July 6 the US was still in a “serious situation”.
“I disagree with him,” Trump said. “I think we’re going to be in very good shape.”
June 17: Trump says the virus is going to ‘fade away’
“We’re very close to a vaccine and we’re very close to therapeutics, really good therapeutics,” Trump said in a television interview with Fox News.
“But even without that, I don’t even like to talk about that, because it’s fading away, it’s going to fade away, but having a vaccine would be really nice and that’s going to happen.”
June 15: Trump says without testing, case numbers would decline
“If you don’t test, you don’t have any cases,” Trump said at a White House round-table discussion.
“If we stopped testing right now, we’d have very few cases, if any.”
President Donald Trump argues the US has so many cases of COVID-19 because it tests so many Americans on June 15 [File: Evan Vucci/AP Photo]May 8: ‘Not worried’ about virus at the White House, it will ‘go away’
“No, I’m not worried. But, you know, look, I get things done. I don’t worry about things. I do what I have to do. We’ve taken very strong precautions at the White House. But again, we’re dealing with a invisible situation. Nobody knows,” Trump said.
“Well, I feel about vaccines like I feel about tests. This is going to go away without a vaccine. It’s going to go away, and it’s – we’re not going to see it again, hopefully, after a period of time.”
April 29: Trump says in Oval Office meeting ‘This is going away’
“It’s going to go away. This is going to go away,” Trump said in an Oval Office meeting with Dr Fauci, Dr Deborah Birx, and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards.
Trump told reporters the White House’s social-distancing guidelines for the US would be “fading out”.
President Donald Trump met with Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards about the coronavirus response in the Oval Office of the White House on April 29, 2020. (From left) Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr Fauci, White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr Deborah Birx, and Bel Edwards. Trump said the virus would be ‘fading out’ [File: Evan Vucci/AP Photo]April 23: Trump suggests ‘injection’ of disinfectant could kill virus
“I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute,” Trump said in a White House press briefing.
“And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets inside the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that,” he speculated.
April 6: Trump sees ‘light at the end of the tunnel’
“There’s tremendous light at the end of the tunnel,” Trump said in a White House briefing.
“Stay inside and let’s win this and let’s get our country (back) as soon as we can. I think it’s going to be sooner than people think. Things are going really well,” Trump said.
April 3: CDC advises public wear face masks, Trump says he will not
“The CDC is advising the use of non-medical cloth face covering as an additional voluntary public health measure. So it’s voluntary. You don’t have to do it. They suggested for a period of time. But this is voluntary. I don’t think I’m going to be doing it,” Trump said at the White House.
President Donald Trump says he is not going to wear a mask at the White House on April 3 [File: Alex Brandon/AP Photo]“I just don’t want to be doing, I don’t know, somehow sitting in the Oval Office behind that beautiful resolute desk, the great resolute desk. I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens. I don’t know, somehow I don’t see it for myself. I just, I just don’t.”
March 7 & 16: ‘Not concerned’ about virus, and it ‘washes through’
Asked at Mar-a-Lago at a working dinner on March 7 with Brazil President Bolsonaro whether he was concerned about the virus, Trump said: “No, I’m not concerned at all. No, I’m not. No, we’ve done a great job.”
Later on March 16 in White House press briefing, Trump said he expected the virus to go away: “It washes through. Other people don’t like that term. But where it washes through.”
President Donald Trump is seated before a dinner with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (left) at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. Bolsonaro’s communications director tested positive just days later [File:Alex Brandon/AP Photo]February 26-27: Compares coronavirus to the flu, says ‘it will disappear’
“We’re very, very ready for this, for anything – whether it’s going to be a breakout of larger proportions or whether or not we’re – you know, we’re at that very low level, and we want to keep it that way,” Trump said at a White House press briefing on February 26.
“This is a flu. This is like a flu,” Trump said.
At a White House meeting the next day, Trump said: “It’s going to disappear. One day – it’s like a miracle – it will disappear.”
February 25: On state visit to India, Trump says virus ‘well under control’
“You may ask about the coronavirus, which is very well under control in our country,” Trump said. “We have very few people with it.”
February 10: Trump tells governors, rally virus will recede in April
“Now, the virus that we’re talking about having to do – you know, a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat – as the heat comes in. Typically, that will go away in April. We’re in great shape, though,” Trump told governors at the White House.
Later at a campaign rally in New Hampshire, Trump said: “Looks like by April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away.”
President Donald Trump pumps his fist at a campaign rally on February 10 in Manchester, New Hampshire. The virus would ‘miraculously go away’ , he said [File: Evan Vucci/AP Photo]February 2: Trump tells Fox News virus is shutdown
“We pretty much shut it down coming in from China,” President Trump told the Fox News presenter Sean Hannity.
“But we can’t have thousands of people coming in who may have this problem, the coronavirus. We’re going to see what happens, but we did shut it down, yes.”
January 24: Trump tweets confidence in China’s handling of the virus
China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 24, 2020
January 22: Trump says the US and China have virus ‘under control’
“We have it totally under control,” Trump said in a CNBC television interview from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“It’s one person coming in from China. We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”