Stand up for facts and support PolitiFact.
Now is your chance to go on the record as supporting trusted, factual information by joining PolitiFact’s Truth Squad. Contributions or gifts to PolitiFact, which is part of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Poynter Institute, are tax deductible.
I would like to contribute
If Your Time is short
Those golf and rally dates are correct
The CDC’s Jan. 8 coronavirus “warning” says the threat to Americans was low and didn’t establish person-to-person transmission
Trump took action against the spread of COVID-19 before March 13
President Donald Trump has received plenty of criticism for the timeline of his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Now a Facebook post making the rounds seeks to scrutinize Trump’s actions in comparison to health officials’ warnings about the virus.
The post says that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning about COVID-19 as early as Jan. 8, but that Trump continued to hold campaign rallies and play golf before he "admitted the coronavirus might be a problem" on March 13.
The post lists specific dates, saying "Trump held campaign rallies on Jan 9, Jan 14, Jan 28, Jan 30, Feb 10, Feb 19, Feb 20, Feb 21, & Feb 28. He golfed on Jan 18, Jan 19, Feb 1, Feb 15, Mar 7, Mar 8."
This post was flagged by Facebook as part of efforts to combat false news and information on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
We looked into the claim date by date and found that Trump did hold rallies and go golfing on those dates. But the CDC’s warning said the threat of the coronavirus to Americans was low, and Trump took action against the virus earlier than March 13.
According to online archives of the events page on Trump’s website, rallies were held across the U.S. on the dates listed in the post, including the Feb. 28 rally in North Charleston, S.C., where he used the word "hoax" while talking about the coronavirus.
Trump also went golfing on the dates mentioned in the post. Social media posts and press reports in Palm Beach document visits the president made to his Florida golf course in the first three months of 2020.
The dates when the CDC first warned the public about COVID-19 and when Trump "admitted the coronavirus might be a problem" are more ambiguous.
On Jan. 8, the CDC announced in a health advisory that it was investigating a new coronavirus detected in Wuhan, China. The advisory stated that "no human-to-human transmission has been reported." As a precaution, it advised health officials to wear an "N95 disposable facepiece respirator" if they were treating a patient who had recently traveled to Wuhan and was experiencing respiratory problems.
The situation summary the CDC posted on Jan. 10 stressed that there were no deaths associated with the novel coronavirus at the time and that the health risk to the American public was low.
On Feb. 1, the CDC updated its advisory and noted that there were seven cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. It detailed how doctors and caregivers should avoid being in close contact with patients who might have COVID-19, especially those who had traveled to China or had been in close contact with known cases.
The Feb. 28 update from the CDC told doctors to assume that anyone with respiratory symptoms had COVID-19, even if they hadn’t had close contact with other patients or traveled to China recently.
It’s hard to put a finger on when Trump "admitted the coronavirus might be a problem."
On Feb. 27, Trump announced during a press conference that he was putting Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the Coronavirus Task Force. However, in the same conference, Trump told reporters that he didn’t think a widespread outbreak in the U.S. was inevitable, just that "there’s a chance it could get fairly substantially worse."
Trump gave an Oval Office address on March 11, the same day the WHO declared that COVID-19 was a pandemic, in which he banned travel from Europe for the next 30 days. He also reminded the public that on March 6 he had signed, and Congress had passed, "an $8.3 billion funding bill to help CDC and other government agencies fight the virus and support vaccines, treatments, and distribution of medical supplies."
Trump declared a national emergency on March 13 during a press conference with his Coronavirus Task Force. This opened up $50 billion of funding that would be used to "fight against this disease."
A recent Facebook post claimed that Trump was warned about COVID-19 on Jan. 8 but continued to hold campaign rallies and play golf until he "admitted the coronavirus might be a problem" on March 13.
While the golf and rally dates are accurate, the dates of the CDC’s first warning and Trump’s response to the coronavirus aren’t as clear cut.
There was a health advisory issued Jan. 8, though the threat to the U.S. was undefined and person-to-person transmission wasn’t established yet. It’s harder to determine the date on which Trump admitted there was a problem, but he did take specific actions before March 13. Those actions included creating a task force, signing a bill for health research funding and banning travel from China and Europe.
The claim is partially accurate but leaves out important context. We rate it Half True.
Facebook post, March 31, 2020
Donald Trump Campaign, Events, archived Jan 08, 2020
Donald Trump Campaign, Events, archived Jan 29, 2020
Donald Trump Campaign, Events, archived Feb 17, 2020
C-SPAN, President Trump Campaign Event in North Charleston, South Carolina, Feb 28, 2020
PolitiFact, The president who cried hoax? Experts weigh in on Trump's use of the word, April 1, 2020
Tweet, Feb 1, 2020
Tweet, Mar 7, 2020
Public Pool, Subject: Out-of-town pool report #3, Feb 15, 2020
Palm Beach Post, Photos: PHOTOS: Trump in Palm Beach on Saturday, Jan 18, 2020
Palm Beach Post, Photos: PHOTOS: Trump in Palm Beach on Sunday, Jan 20, 2020
Palm Beach Post, Photos: PHOTOS: President Trump's visit 3-8-2020, March 8, 2020
CDC, Outbreak of Pneumonia of Unknown Etiology (PUE) in Wuhan, China, Jan 8, 2020
CDC, Novel Coronavirus 2019, Wuhan, China, Jan 10, 2020
CDC, Update and Interim Guidance on Outbreak of 2019 Novel Coronavirus, Feb 1, 2020
CDC, Update and Interim Guidance on Outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019, Feb 28, 2020
Politifact, Timeline: How Donald Trump responded to the coronavirus pandemic, March 20, 2020
White House, Remarks by President Trump in Address to the Nation, March 11, 2020
White House, Remarks by President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Members of the Coronavirus Task Force in Press Conference, March 13, 2020
Read About Our Process
In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.