Trump Caught on Tape in February Saying He Knew Coronavirus Was Worse Than Flu

Even though he repeatedly downplayed the threat that the coronavirus posed, President Donald Trump reportedly knew about the potential dangers associated with the illness. According to CNN, journalist Bob Woodward is publishing a new book, Rage, on Sept. 15, which contains a series of interviews that the author conducted with the president. On Feb. 7, weeks before many parts of the United States implemented lockdown measures amidst the health crisis, Trump reportedly told Woodward that the coronavirus was "deadly stuff."

Trump engaged in 18 wide-ranging interviews with Woodward that took place from Dec. 5, 2019, to July 21, 2020. Those interviews were reportedly recorded with the president's permission. In early February, Trump told Woodward that he was aware of how deadly the coronavirus is. He added that the illness was possibly five times "more deadly" than the flu. During a conversation that the two had on March 19, he admitted that he knew how serious this situation is and that he was withholding that information from the American public. "I always wanted to play it down," the president told Woodward, days after he declared a national emergency over the coronavirus. "I still like playing it down because I don't want to create a panic."

Trump went on to tell Woodward that the coronavirus isn't just affecting the older members of the population, as he said it's affecting "young people too, plenty of young people." As previously mentioned, this news comes after the president repeatedly downplayed the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic to the American people. According to Business Insider, he said on Feb. 27 that the coronavirus is "going to disappear. One day, it's like a miracle, it will disappear." He doubled down on those claims a couple of weeks later, as he said on March 10, "And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away."

While he has admitted that the coronavirus poses a serious threat to the American public, the president has been calling for schools to reopen (even though he has also admitted that the virus poses a threat to the younger members of the population, as well) and for individuals to go back to work. In May, CNN reported that if the United States took action earlier by implementing a strict shutdown and calling for safety and social distancing measures that nearly 36,000 fewer Americans would have died. In other words, if Trump had acted decisively in early February based on what he reportedly knew about the coronavirus, thousands of American lives could have been saved.