Speed Reads

the coronavirus crisis

Trump again hits the World Health Organization for having 'minimized the threat' from COVID-19

The World Health Organization has declined to criticize President Trump, whose country has nearly three times the number of confirmed COVID-19 coronavirus cases as the next country on the list (Spain), but Trump seems eager to pick a fight with the WHO. After going after the United Nations health agency at Tuesday's White House coronavirus briefing, Trump returned to the theme at Wednesday's briefing, complaining at length about how much the U.S. contributes to the WHO versus China's contribution.

"The World WHO, World Health, got it wrong, I mean they got it very wrong, in many ways they were wrong," Trump said. "They also minimized the threat very strongly and, not good."

The WHO did say Jan. 14 that "preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus," but it reversed course by Jan. 30, saying "there has been human-to-human transmission in three countries outside China" and calling it a global health emergency.

There is plenty to fault in the WHO's response to what it finally declared a pandemic on March 11, but Trump may not be the best person to offer such criticism.

Trump's "shifting assessments of the seriousness of the virus over recent months have been well documented," Peter Baker writes in The New York Times. "Initially, he likened it to an ordinary flu that would 'miraculously' go away, then he later called it 'the worst thing that the country has probably ever seen' and declared 'war' against the virus," declaring a national emergency on March 13. Trump's presidential daily briefing had detailed warnings of the threat from the virus spreading through China by early January, ABC News reports. His trade adviser was warning about the dire threat to the U.S. economy and U.S. lives in late January.

The Daily Show reminds us how Trump and his allies discussed the coronavirus, and when:

"What remains unclear," Baker writes at the Times, "is whether Mr. Trump does not remember saying things that he later denies saying or is trying to impose his own reality."