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President Donald Trump delivers a prime-time address to the nation about the coronavirus from the Oval Office on March 11. (AP) President Donald Trump delivers a prime-time address to the nation about the coronavirus from the Oval Office on March 11. (AP)

President Donald Trump delivers a prime-time address to the nation about the coronavirus from the Oval Office on March 11. (AP)

Jon Greenberg
By Jon Greenberg March 20, 2020
Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman March 20, 2020

Editor's note: We updated the timeline Jan. 19, 2021.

In the span of one year, Americans went from hearing about a new virus in central China to watching the slow rollout of a vaccine, with only a small percentage of Americans able to access it in the first several weeks. 

In between, they endured months of stay-at-home orders, school and business closures, and requirements to wear masks in many public spaces as the monthly case and death tolls rose.

President Donald Trump went from dismissing the threat of the virus — publicly at least — to taking credit when the vaccine was approved for emergency use. Between his Twitter posts, campaign rallies and daily press conferences, Trump became the foremost mouthpiece for the federal government’s virus response. But he routinely distorted the facts, and then caught the virus himself as his own White House became a hotspot for infection.

Trump told the nation we were "rounding the corner" even as cases continued to rise in the fall. He and his administration overpromised about when Americans could get the vaccine and how fast the rollout would proceed.

The story of Trump and the coronavirus can be broken down into a series of phases: the emergence of the threat; the government’s focus on keeping it out of the United States; the flailing effort to contain the spread; Trump’s positive test; his return to the campaign trail; his election loss followed by announcements about vaccine trials; and finally emergency use approval of the Pfizer vaccine and Moderna vaccines followed by their rollout to the states.

RELATED: 10 of Trump's big COVID-19 falsehoods

Knowing the facts has never been more important. Please consider donating to PolitiFact today.

Here are the key moments in each phase, and what Trump said at those times — fact-checked.

Phase One: The disease emerges

Dec. 31: China confirms existence of a new virus.

Jan. 20: World Health Organization reports cases in China, Thailand, Japan, and South Korea.

Jan. 21: The first U.S. case is announced in Washington state (as well as Vietnam and Singapore). WHO says the virus risk globally is high.

Jan. 22: A reporter asks if there are worries about a pandemic. Trump responds:

"No. Not at all. And we have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s — going to be just fine."

Jan. 24: Trump tweets, "It will all work out well."

Jan 29: The White House forms a coronavirus response task force, initially led by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

Jan. 30: The WHO declares a global health emergency.

Phase Two: Keeping it out of the United States

Jan. 30: Trump blocks travel from China.

The same night, he holds a campaign rally in Iowa.

"We think we have it very well under control. We have very little problem in this country at this moment — five. ... we think it’s going to have a very good ending for it."

Feb. 2: Trump tells Fox News host Sean Hannity, "We pretty much shut it down coming in from China." 

Feb. 4: Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama, Japan. Over 2,600 guests and over 1,000 crew. Within two days, over 40 people test positive for COVID-19, including eight Americans.

Feb. 11: WHO names the new disease COVID-19.

Feb 14: Trump discusses the "very small" number of U.S. coronavirus cases with  Border Patrol Council members:

"We have a very small number of people in the country, right now, with it. It’s like around 12. Many of them are getting better. Some are fully recovered already. So we’re in very good shape."

Feb. 20: WHO reports nearly 77,000 cases worldwide in 27 countries.

Feb. 24: Stock market plummets as Dow Jones Industrials falls more than 1,000 points.

The same day, Trump asks for $1.25 billion in emergency aid. It grows to $8.3 billion in Congress.He tweets that the virus "is very much under control" and the stock market "starting to look very good to me!" 

Feb. 26: The first case emerges in California with no clear source, suggesting community spread of the virus.

In a news conference that day, Trump says the United States is "really prepared." He puts Vice President Mike Pence in charge of  the White House task force.

Feb. 28: Cases rise across Europe, including Italy, Germany, France, England, Switzerland and Belarus.

Phase Three: Containing the spread

Feb. 29: FDA eases guidelines to speed the broader use of testing.

March 4: House passes $8.3 billion emergency bill, aimed mainly at the immediate health response to the virus. 

In a Fox News interview, Trump deflects criticism to his response by saying the Obama administration (including the vice president, Joe Biden) "didn't do anything about" swine flu. We rated the claim False.

Trump continues to blame the Obama administration in an exchange with reporters at the White House. 

"The Obama administration made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we’re doing."

Our fact-check shows the process dated back to 2006, before Obama took office. So the claim is False

March 6: Grand Princess cruise ship with over 2,000 passengers waits to dock off the California coast.

Asked about the docking of the Grand Princess, Trump says the following:

"I would rather (Grand Princess passengers stay aboard) because I like the numbers being where they are. I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship." 

Trump went on to say that he thought it was more important for passengers to debark than to keep the numbers down.

In a news conference, Trump downplays the concerns around testing:

"Anybody that wants a test can get a test."

With tests in short supply, we rated the claim Pants on Fire.

The same day, Trump tweets out blame to the media and the Democrats for trying to "inflame" the situation "far beyond what the facts would warrant."

March 11: On the same day the WHO declares COVID-19 a pandemic, Trump uses a prime-time Oval Office address to announce a ban on travel for non-Americans from most of Europe. He misstates a freeze on cargo and falsely said the health insurance industry has "agreed to waive all co-payments for coronavirus treatments." In reality, getting tested would be free, but treatment would not be covered. 

March 13: Trump declares a national emergency to access $50 billion for states and territories, and clear the way for fast-track waivers for hospitals and doctors as they respond to the virus.

March 14: The House passes a worker and business relief bill with paid leave guarantees for certain workers, expanded food assistance and unemployment insurance benefits, and employer tax credits. Trump signs it four days later.

March 17: Trump said in a news conference that for the next 14 days, "we’re asking everyone to work at home, if possible, postpone unnecessary travel, and limit social gatherings to no more than 10 people."

Trump says there was no shift in tone from the White House.

"I've always known this is a real, this is a pandemic. I've felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic."

As this timeline shows, Trump minimized the threat of a pandemic for many weeks. Pants on Fire!

Asked if the World Health Organization had offered detection tests to the United States, Trump said WHO had not, and that the WHO coronavirus test "was a bad test." False. WHO said three independent labs had validated the test, and the White House coordinator for coronavirus response said she assumed the WHO test is effective. 

March 19: The U.S. Senate unveils a $1 trillion-plus economic stimulus package. California orders lockdown for 40 million residents. 

March 20-23: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo orders all non-essential businesses to keep their workers home. Indiana, Louisiana, Ohio, Illinois and many other states issue similar restrictions.

March 24: Having tweeted on the economic shutdown that "we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself," Trump says in a Fox News town hall he would "love to have the country opened up, and just raring to go by Easter."

Trump responds to a request from Cuomo for ventilators, reading from papers in his hand:

"(He) rejected buying recommended 16,000 ventilators in 2015 for the pandemic, for a pandemic, established death panels and lotteries instead. So, he had a chance to buy, in 2015, 16,000 ventilators at a very low price, and he turned it down."

False. A state study said that many might be needed in a crisis, but it also said there were immediate pressing health needs, and there was no money to buy that many ventilators.

That evening, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, tells Fox News that Trump is flexible on economic restrictions: "The president clearly listens. I mean, he has this aspirational goal of hoping that we might be able to do it by a certain date. We talked with him about that. We say we need to be flexible. He realizes that and he accepts that."

March 27: Trump signs $2.2 trillion emergency spending bill. The act provides $1,200 per individual and $500 per child for households making up to $150,000 a year. Small businesses are eligible for loans — that can be forgiven — from a $377 billion fund. There’s a $454 billion fund for companies and state and local governments, and $180 billion for the health care sector. The details for families and small businesses are here. Details for corporations, states and health care, here.

Phase Four: Shifting expectations

March 29: Trump reverses course on relaxing strict stay-at-home guidance by Easter and extends the period to the end of April.

"The peak, the highest point of death rates — remember this — is likely to hit in two weeks," he said. "Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won. That would be the greatest loss of all."

In the press conference, he argues with "PBS NewsHour" reporter Yamiche Alcindor over what the president had said, or hadn’t said, about New York’s need for ventilators. Trump falsely denied saying that governors were requesting equipment they didn’t need.

March 30: Cases top 163,000. The number of tests crosses the 1 million mark, still behind where the country needs to be. Trump tells Fox News:

"We inherited a broken test" for COVID-19. 

Trump’s impossible claim is Pants on Fire. There could be no test before the new virus emerged. China first confirmed its existence Dec. 31, 2019, and shared its genetic sequence Jan. 7. The CDC’s first shipment of tests to states contained tainted reagents. That and bureaucratic delays cost the U.S. several critical weeks in testing. 

March 31: Trump asks Americans to be prepared for the "hard days that lie ahead."

"This is going to be a very painful — very, very painful two weeks," he said. "When you look and see at night the kind of death that's been caused by this invisible enemy, it's — it's incredible."

The coronavirus death toll reaches about 3,700.

April 1: Trump talks about keeping the transportation system running.

"They’re doing tests on airlines — very strong tests — for getting on, getting off. They’re doing tests on trains — getting on, getting off." 

This confuses screening — which is happening at only 13 airports and not at any train station — with testing. Screening involves a temperature check or a questionnaire, and takes place only for people traveling from certain countries. This claim is Pants on Fire

April 4: Trump urges use of the drug hydroxychloroquine to fight the virus.

"I hope they use it, because I'll tell you what: What do you have to lose?"

Hospitals are using the drug, but the benefits remain unclear, and the risk of heart damage is well documented. (Doctors in Brazil halted a trial when patients developed irregular heart beats.) Of the two limited tests that suggested it worked, one was later discredited by the scientific society that published it, and efforts to replicate their results failed. See our research round-up here.

April 11: The total number of workers signing up to get unemployment insurance checks reaches nearly 12 million, the highest number (seasonally adjusted) since the government began tracking.

The same day, the United States passes Italy for the most confirmed COVID-19 deaths — over 20,000.

April 13: Eager to restart the economy, Trump says as president he has "total" authority to decide when states lift quarantine rules and other restrictions.

Pants on Fire. Trump overlooked the principle of federalism which reserves certain powers to the states. Legal experts said no part of the Constitution gives the president unlimited power.

Trump also unveiled a White House video summary of progress against the virus. The video used quotes out of context, excluded Trump’s comments during the time when he downplayed the crisis, and ended up highlighting the lack of action during the critical month of February.

April 14: Fourth economic rescue bill stalls. Republicans seek additional $250 billion for small businesses. Democrats agree, but also want another $250 billion for hospitals and state and local governments. On April 16, the SBA says it has committed all of the nearly $350 billion small business aid program called the Paycheck Protection Program.

April 16: Trump releases guidelines to restart the economy. 

"To preserve the health of our citizens, we must also preserve the health and functioning of our economy," Trump said. He left the decision of whether to relax restrictions in the hands of each state. The guidelines said states should first make sure that the number of cases was headed down.

"If they need to remain closed, we will allow them to do that," he said. "And if they believe it is time to reopen, we will provide them the freedom and guidance to accomplish that task."

Trump said that while Washington will help with the wide-scale testing required, testing is in the hands of each state. Public health researchers and state officials issued a report saying to be successful, the testing and contact tracing requires "a new national initiative that combines a massive expansion of rapid diagnostic tests in every community with an unprecedented growth in a public health workforce."

April 17: Total number of U.S. cases tops 672,000, with nearly 34,000 deaths.

"Supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way … It sounds interesting."

April 23: At the regular White House coronavirus briefing, Trump suggests getting disinfectant and light inside the body are interesting possibilities. Experts told us that not only are both approaches ineffective, they can be dangerous.

"You should absolutely open the schools. Our country has got to get back, and it’s got to get back as soon as possible. And I don’t consider our country coming back if the schools are closed."

April 29: The Trump administration organized Operation Warp Speed, which aimed to have substantial quantities of a vaccine by January 2021 as well as to develop therapeutics.

May 13: During a meeting with the governors of Colorado and North Dakota, Trump links reopening the economy with reopening schools.

May 29: Trump announces he is terminating relations with the World Health Organization, saying China "pressured the World Health Organization to mislead the world when the virus was first discovered by Chinese authorities."

In our fact-check of Trump’s claims against WHO and China, we found he ignored actions WHO took to alert the global public health community, and assumed, without evidence, that WHO knew that China was censoring reports of the spread of the disease.

"We’re opening, and we’re opening with a bang. And we’ve been talking about the V. This is better than a V; this is a rocket ship."

June 8: Trump celebrates the recovery of 4.8 million jobs, comparing the coronavirus with a hurricane. "The hurricane goes away, and within two hours, everyone is rebuilding and fixing and cleaning and cutting their grass," Trump said.

COVID-19 cases are "up only because of our big number testing."

June 23: As both testing and new cases rise, Trump argued that the first caused the second. But if that were true, the share of tests coming back positive would hold steady or fall. In 12 days, between June 10 and June 22, the positivity rate rose by about 25%. We rated Trump’s claim False.

"We have tested over 40 million people. By so doing, we show cases, 99% of which are totally harmless."

President Donald Trump stands on stage before he speaks at the Mount Rushmore National Monument Friday, July 3, 2020, in Keystone, S.D. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

July 4: In his Fourth of July speech in Washington, Trump minimizes the threat of the virus. At the time Trump spoke, based on the number of test-confirmed cases, overall 4.5% of victims had died since the pandemic struck. Daily hospitalizations were at 4% of cases.  We rated this False.

"We have one of the lowest mortality rates in the world."

July 19: Trump said the United States compared quite favorably with other countries in preventing deaths from the virus. No fewer than 15 advanced, industrialized nations currently have a lower mortality rate, as do a host of other countries, including Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, Russia, Turkey, Argentina and India. We rated this False.

"It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better."

July 21: As cases and deaths surge in states across the South, as well as in Texas, Arizona and California, Trump returned to brief the press on the coronavirus. In a marked shift in tone, he warned that harder times were on the way. Before, Trump had downplayed the need to wear masks. That message changed.

"We’re asking everybody that when you are not able to socially distance, wear a mask, get a mask," Trump said. "Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact.  They’ll have an effect. And we need everything we can get."

Aug. 5: Trump downplayed the chances that children would catch COVID-19 and urged schools to reopen.

"Children are "almost immune from this disease."

It’s wrong to say children are "almost immune" to the virus. Before he spoke, there were cases spread at an overnight camp in the U.S. and at some schools overseas, including in Israel. We rated this statement False

Aug. 6: Trump says on Geraldo Rivera’s radio show that a vaccine could be available before the end of the year — or "right around" the Nov. 3 election. Trump has repeatedly presented a more rosy picture of the vaccine development timeline than some other government officials. Even if the vaccine is ready before 2021, it’s likely that it won’t be widely available and will be distributed to certain essential workers or populations first.

Aug. 17: Trump holds a campaign rally in Oshkosh, Wis., an important battleground state that he won in 2016, and dismisses the fact that the U.S. has more cases and deaths than any other country:

"We're coming back and our numbers are better than almost all countries."

The White House pointed to one number to back that up — the number of deaths relative to the number of known cases. But by other yardsticks, the United States was doing worse than many countries, including a higher death rate in relation to its population, and the test positivity rate. We rated this sweeping claim False.

Sept. 1: As the U.S. reaches the 6 million mark for confirmed cases, Trump boosts a conspiracy theory about the CDC’s coronavirus death toll, first on Twitter and then on Fox News on Laura Ingraham’s show.

"Only 6% of the people actually died from COVID."

Pants on Fire! Trump misconstrued data on coronavirus deaths. A National Center for Health Statistics report found that, for about 6% of Americans who die from the virus, COVID-19 is the only condition listed on their death certificates. But that doesn’t mean the remaining 94% didn’t die due to the coronavirus. Officials said COVID-19 is the underlying cause of death for most victims. 

Sept. 7: Speaking at the White House on Labor Day, Trump hinted again that he thought we may have a vaccine by Election Day: "So we’re going to have a vaccine very soon, maybe even before a very special date. You know what date I’m talking about." Two days later at a Senate panel hearing, federal health officials expressed caution about that timeline.

Sept. 9: Investigative reporter Bob Woodward’s new book about Trump entitled "Rage" is released early to some media outlets. The Washington Post posts audio from Woodward’s March 19 interview with Trump in which the presdient said of his early COVID-19 response:

"To be honest with you, I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic."

Sept 12: At a rally in Minden, Nev., Trump said Biden is "in his damn basement again" — a frequent attack line. But the claim is False. Biden held multiple events in various states in September.

Sept. 13: About 5,600 supporters gathered to hear Trump speak at Xtreme Manufacturing, a warehouse, in Henderson, Nev., despite a state rule prohibiting gatherings of more than 50 people. Many people in the crowd were not wearing masks. Trump again talks up the timeline for a vaccine and promises "we will very easily defeat the China virus. That’s what’s happening." 

Sept. 15: Trump takes questions in a town hall with voters on ABC News, repeating many false and misleading claims.  

Sept. 17, 18, 19: Trump continues to hold in-person rallies, including in Mosinee, Wis., Bemidji, Minn., and Fayetteville, N.C. 

Sept. 22: The U.S. surpasses 200,000 COVID-19 deaths.

Sept. 24: At a Jacksonville, Fla., rally, Trump speaks optimistically about a future return to normal life. "We’re rounding the third. We’re rounding the turn. Under my leadership, prosperity will surge. Normal life, oh, I love normal life. We want to get back to normal life. We’ll fully resume. The Florida tourism and hospitality industries will reach record highs."

Sept. 26: Trump nominates Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill an opening on the U.S. Supreme Court. The ceremony is held in the Rose Garden, with few masks and no social distancing between seats in the crowd. 

That night, at a rally in Middletown, Pa., Trump praised his administration’s response: "And to fight the China virus, we launched the largest national mobilization since World War II. You know they said, ‘How did you do?’ I say we get an A plus, but I get a D in public relations because we were so busy working and you know when you give it to the fake news, they reported incorrectly."

Sept. 29: Trump and Biden faced off in Cleveland for the first debate, moderated by Chris Wallace. Trump repeats false or misleading claims about his rallies and Dr. Anthony Fauci’s early comments on the general public wearing masks. 

Some of the guests or officials in attendance at Barrett’s ceremony later test positive for the coronavirus.

Phase Five: A presidential positive test and hospitalization 

Oct. 1: One of Trump's closest aides, Hope Hicks, tests positive for the coronavirus. Trump confirms her results to Sean Hannity of Fox News and says he and wife Melania were tested for the virus due to their close proximity to Hicks. Trump talks about how hard it is for Hicks and others to keep their distance from law enforcement and members of the military "who want to hug you and they want to kiss you because we really have done a good job for them."

"You can’t just say, 'Stay away, stay away,'" Trump said.

Oct. 2: Hours later, Trump sends an historic tweet: He and Melania tested positive. The tweet is posted at 12:54 a.m. ET.

"Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!"

The quarantine halts Trump's usual campaign rallies, including a planned stop in the battleground of Florida. Melania Trump tweets that they are "feeling good," but no further information is released about their symptoms and condition.

That night, Trump is moved by helicopter to Walter Reed Medical Center. In an 18-second Twitter video posted that night, Trump said, "I think I am doing very well but we are going to make sure that things work out."

Oct. 3: Trump tweets another video update from Walter Reed: "I think I will be back soon. I look forward to finishing up the campaign the way it was started …. We are going to beat this coronavirus or whatever you want to call it. …. I’m starting to feel good." 

Oct. 4: Trump takes a short car ride with the Secret Service so he can wave to supporters outside Walter Reed. "It’s been a very interesting journey," Trump said from Walter Reed. 

"I learned a lot about COVID. I learned it by really going to school. This is the real school. This isn’t the ‘let’s read the book’ school. And I get it. And I understand it. And it’s a very interesting thing. And I’m going to be letting you know about it."

Oct. 5: White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany announces that she tested positive, the latest in Trump’s circle of advisers and contacts to test positive.

Trump announces in a tweet he will leave the hospital that night, and he does.

"Don’t be afraid of COVID. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!"

Phase Six: Trump resumes campaigning following his covid diagnosis

Oct. 10: Trump gives a speech from the White House balcony to a gathering of supporters that dubs a peaceful protest for law and order. Trump spoke for an uncharacteristically short 17 minutes. 

Oct. 12-Nov. 2: Trump returns to the campaign trail to hold rallies in Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia, Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada, Ohio and Nebraska. At a campaign rally in Michigan Oct. 30, Trump said that doctors inflate the number of COVID-19 deaths to "get more money." There is no evidence to back this up. Doctors and coroners follow established guidelines on the cause of death, and false reporting is a crime.

Oct. 15: At an NBC town hall, Trump repeated a number of falsehoods and exaggerations about the state of the crisis, the efficacy of face masks and pandemic-driven immigration restrictions. Trump repeated a false characterization of a small survey when he said "just the other day, they came out with a statement that 85% of the people that wear masks catch it."

Oct 16: States are required by this date to submit their first plans to distribute the vaccine, even though they face several unknowns, including when the vaccine will arrive, how many doses they will get, and how much money they will get to cover distribution costs.

"We are rounding the turn" on coronavirus. "We are rounding the corner." 

Oct. 22: During a debate with Biden, Trump says, "We are rounding the corner" on the coronavirus. That statement was false. At the time, cases had been rising steadily since mid-September, hospitalizations had been rising for almost two weeks, and positivity rates had been rising since the end of September.

Oct. 27: Trump continues to express frustration that COVID-19 is a major news topic. He tweets: "ALL THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA WANTS TO TALK ABOUT IS COVID, COVID, COVID. ON NOVEMBER 4th, YOU WON’T BE HEARING SO MUCH ABOUT IT ANYMORE. WE ARE ROUNDING THE TURN!!!"

Phase Seven: Trump loses the election, and vaccine makers announce initial results 

Nov. 3: Election Day. The following day in a White House speech, Trump prematurely declared victory. On Nov. 7, every major television network and the Associated Press called the presidential race for Biden when he passed the required 270 electoral votes. During the next month, Trump and his allies will file dozens of lawsuits in a flailing effort to overturn the election.

Nov. 9: As the U.S. surpasses 10 million cases, Pfizer and its partner BioNTech announce that an early analysis of clinical trial data found that inoculated individuals experienced 90% fewer cases of symptomatic COVID-19 than those who had received a placebo. Trump accuses the company of sitting on the results until after the election.

Nov. 16: Moderna announces that its vaccine was 95% effective at preventing the disease, according to an early analysis of clinical trial data. Trump continues to take credit for vaccine development and days later says if it wasn’t for him, it would have taken years.

"Joe Biden was a total disaster in handling the H1N1 Swine Flu, would never have produced a Vaccine in record time (years ahead of schedule), and would do a terrible job of Vaccine delivery - But doesn’t everybody already know that!"

Nov. 23: The General Services Administration sends a letter to Biden officially starting the transition. Before that, Trump and his administration blocked such efforts, preventing Biden officials from meeting with top Trump officials about COVID-19 vaccine and related efforts. 
Phase Eight: The FDA approves emergency use of the first vaccine

Dec. 2: At an Operation Warp Speed briefing, federal officials indicate a fast-paced vaccine rollout is coming.

"We will be able to distribute enough vaccine to immunize 20 million people in the U.S. in December — that’s 40 million doses — and 30 million people, 60 million doses in January," says Moncef Slaoui, the Trump-appointed chief adviser to Operation Warp Speed.

Dec. 8: U.S. surpasses 15 million COVID-19 cases. At his Operation Warp Speed summit, Trump promises a quick vaccine rollout. "If authorized, tens of millions of vaccine doses will be available this month and we’ll get it distributed very quickly. We have that all set and hundreds of millions more will quickly follow. Every American who wants the vaccine will be able to get the vaccine. And we think by spring, we’re going to be in a position that nobody would have believed possible just a few months ago. Amazing, really amazing. They say it’s somewhat of a miracle. And I think that’s true."

Trump calls on governors to first vaccinate seniors and people in health care who work with seniors. "This will quickly and dramatically reduce deaths and hospitalizations. And within a short period of time, I think we want to get back to normal."

Dec. 10: An advisory panel recommends that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration grant emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine.

Trump calls the FDA "a big, old, slow turtle. Get the dam vaccines out NOW, Dr. Hahn @SteveFDA. Stop playing games and start saving lives!!!" 

Dec. 11: The FDA grants emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine for people age 16 and up. Trump announced at the White House:

"I have really good news. Today, our nation has achieved a medical miracle. We have delivered a safe and effective vaccine in just nine months. This is one of the greatest scientific accomplishments in history. It will save millions of lives, and soon end the pandemic once and for all. I am thrilled to report that the FDA has authorized the Pfizer vaccine."

Dec. 13: Virus shipment begins. About 2.9 million doses are expected to be sent to states, mostly starting at large hospitals, this week.

Dec. 14: Health workers at high risk of becoming infected begin receiving the shots. 

Dec. 18: The FDA grants emergency use authorization to allow the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to be distributed in the U.S. for adults.

Dec. 27: Trump signs a $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill, after criticizing it because he said he wanted higher cash payments to taxpayers. "I will sign the Omnibus and COVID package with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed," Trump says in a written statement.

Dec. 30: News reports show  the vaccine rollout to be progressing slowly in the states. "The Federal Government has distributed the vaccines to the states. Now it is up to the states to administer. Get moving!" Trump tweets.

Jan. 3, 2021: Trump criticizes the CDC’s COVID-19 death count in a tweet: "The number of cases and deaths of the China Virus is far exaggerated in the United States because of @CDCgov’s ridiculous method of determination compared to other countries, many of whom report, purposely, very inaccurately and low.

'When in doubt, call it Covid.' Fake News!

Fauci disputes Trump’s account. "Well, the deaths are real deaths," Fauci says on ABC’s "This Week." "All you need to do is to go out into the trenches, go to the hospitals, see what the health care workers are dealing with. They are under very stressed situations in many areas of the country. The hospital beds are stretched. People are running out of beds, running out of trained personnel, who are exhausted right now. That's real. That's not fake. That's real."

Jan. 12: The Trump administration announces it will release the federal government’s entire vaccine stockpile to the states, rather than holding supplies in reserve for second doses. Days later, the Washington Post reports that at the time of the announcement, all supplies had already been released, and no such stockpile existed.

Jan. 13: Trump is impeached for the second time, one week after his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol while both houses of Congress were in session to certify election results. The articles of impeachment said Trump incited the crowd and endangered the security of the United States. Trump said in a video statement: "Tragically, over the course of the past year made so difficult because of COVID-19, we have seen political violence spiral out of control. We have seen too many riots, too many mobs, too many acts of intimidation and destruction. It must stop." 

Jan. 19: By Trump’s final full day in office, the U.S. had recorded a total of 24 million COVID-19 cases and almost 400,000 deaths. About 14 million Americans have received a shot, said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

This story was updated April 1, April 17, July 23, Sept. 10, Oct. 2, Oct. 5, Dec. 14, Jan. 17 and Jan. 19.

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