“It’s been out there for a long time,” Trump said of the drug chloroquine and a related drug, hydroxychloroquine. “Very powerful drug. But it’s been out there, so it’s tested in the sense that you know it doesn’t kill you.”
Facts First: Trump is right that the drugs have been available for a while, but he’s wrong to imply that they’ve been proven safe for Covid-19 patients. Public health officials have said testing is still needed, and trials are underway.
The drugs have been used to safely prevent and treat malaria, and for lupus and other conditions. But there isn’t scientific data proving that they’re safe for coronavirus patients. There’s no evidence to back up Trump’s assertion that it’s already known that Covid-19 patients won’t die from the treatment. The drug can lead to cardiac side effects, including an irregular heartbeat, which can be especially dangerous for patients with Covid-19, doctors say.
Early tests are underway now in New York, the hardest hit area in the United States with more than 75,000 cases.
“We stopped all of Europe,” Trump said of travel restrictions his administration passed to slow the spread of coronavirus. He later claimed he stopped travel from Italy before imposing broader European travel restrictions.
“We started with certain parts of Italy, and then all of Italy,” Trump said. “Then we saw Spain. Then I said, stop Europe, let’s stop Europe. We have to stop them from coming here.”
Facts First: Trump did not issue a series of travel bans before restricting broader travel from Europe. Furthermore, the travel restrictions Trump did announce in a prime-time Oval Office address on March 11 did not apply to all European countries and contained multiple exemptions.
The restrictions also did not apply to US citizens returning from Europe as well as permanent US residents and certain family members of both citizens and permanent residents.
Trump says it was unknown how contagious coronavirus was
During the presser, Trump claimed that it was unknown early on how contagious the coronavirus was. “The one thing nobody really knew about this virus was how contagious it was,” he said. “It’s so incredibly contagious and nobody knew that.”
Facts First: It’s misleading to suggest that nobody knew how contagious the coronavirus was. While it’s unclear what time frame Trump was referencing, since late January and February researchers and health experts were warning the virus was likely highly contagious.
“When I heard this, I thought, ‘Oh dear, this is worse than we anticipated.’ It means the infection is much more contagious than we originally thought,” Dr. William Schaffner, a longtime adviser to the CDC, said at the time.
A day later the CDC said there was not yet clear evidence that the coronavirus could be transmitted by those who lacked symptoms, but it was a possibility health officials were investigating.
On January 28, Tom Frieden, a former director at the CDC, told Bloomberg News that it was “very clear that this is a serious epidemic” noting that the virus was more contagious than SARS. “So the possibilities here go from the bad, to the very, very bad,” Frieden said.