Over the past four months, President Trump has regularly sought to downplay the coronavirus threat with a mix of facts and false statements. (Video: JM Rieger/The Washington Post, Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

This post will be updated.

President Trump gambled very early and often on the idea that the coronavirus outbreak wouldn’t turn out to be nearly as severe as some health officials warned it could get.

The thrust of Trump’s statements about the virus has been almost relentlessly optimistic, which is a marked contrast to those of some health officials who prefer that people be overly prepared rather than underestimate the threat. He has also regularly promoted the idea that the virus could suddenly disappear.

On Oct. 1, Trump tested positive for the coronavirus, even as he continued to downplay the severity of the pandemic and suggested that the United States is winning the battle against the virus.

Below is a timeline of Trump’s commentary downplaying the threat.

Jan. 22: On whether he was worried about a pandemic: “No, we’re not at all. And we have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China.”

Jan. 24: “It will all work out well.”

Jan. 29: “Just received a briefing on the Coronavirus in China from all of our GREAT agencies, who are also working closely with China. We will continue to monitor the ongoing developments. We have the best experts anywhere in the world, and they are on top of it 24/7!”

Jan. 30: “We think we have it very well under control. We have very little problem in this country at this moment — five. And those people are all recuperating successfully. But we’re working very closely with China and other countries, and we think it’s going to have a very good ending for it. So that I can assure you.”

Feb. 2: “Well, we pretty much shut it down coming in from China. … We can’t have thousands of people coming in who may have this problem, the coronavirus. So we’re going to see what happens, but we did shut it down, yes.”

Feb. 7: “Nothing is easy, but [Chinese President Xi Jinping] … will be successful, especially as the weather starts to warm & the virus hopefully becomes weaker, and then gone.”

Feb. 10: “I think the virus is going to be — it’s going to be fine.”

Feb. 13: “In our country, we only have, basically, 12 cases, and most of those people are recovering and some cases fully recovered. So it’s actually less.”

Feb. 14: “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. 19: “I think it’s going to work out fine. I think when we get into April, in the warmer weather, that has a very negative effect on that and that type of a virus. So let’s see what happens, but I think it’s going to work out fine.”

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Feb. 24: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. … Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”

Feb. 25: “You may ask about the coronavirus, which is very well under control in our country. We have very few people with it, and the people that have it are … getting better. They’re all getting better. … As far as what we’re doing with the new virus, I think that we’re doing a great job.”

Feb. 25: “CDC and my Administration are doing a GREAT job of handling Coronavirus, including the very early closing of our borders to certain areas of the world.”

Feb. 25: “I think that’s a problem that’s going to go away.”

Feb. 26: “Because of all we’ve done, the risk to the American people remains very low. … When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero. That’s a pretty good job we’ve done.”

Feb. 26:

Q: This is spreading — or is going to spread, maybe, within communities. That’s the expectation.
A: It may. It may.
Q: Does that worry you?
A: No. ... No, because we’re ready for it. It is what it is. We’re ready for it. We’re really prepared. ... We hope it doesn’t spread. There’s a chance that it won’t spread too, and there’s a chance that it will, and then it’s a question of at what level.

Feb. 27: “Only a very small number in U.S., & China numbers look to be going down. All countries working well together!”

Feb. 27: “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”

Feb. 28: “We are working on cures and we’re getting some very good results.”

Feb. 28: “I think it’s really going well. We did something very fortunate: we closed up to certain areas of the world very, very early — far earlier than we were supposed to. I took a lot of heat for doing it. It turned out to be the right move, and we only have 15 people and they are getting better, and hopefully they’re all better. There’s one who is quite sick, but maybe he’s gonna be fine. … We’re prepared for the worst, but we think we’re going to be very fortunate.”

Feb. 28: “Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. … And this is their new hoax.”

Feb. 29: “We’re the number one travel destination anywhere in the world, yet we have far fewer cases of the disease than even countries with much less travel or a much smaller population.”

March 2: “On average, you lose from 26,000-70,000 or so and even some cases more from the flu. … So far, we have six [coronavirus deaths] here.”

March 4: “Some people will have this at a very light level and won’t even go to a doctor or hospital, and they’ll get better. There are many people like that.”

March 5: “With approximately 100,000 CoronaVirus cases worldwide, and 3,280 deaths, the United States, because of quick action on closing our borders, has, as of now, only 129 cases (40 Americans brought in) and 11 deaths.”

March 6: “We did an interview on Fox last night, a town hall. I think it was very good. And I said: ‘Calm. You have to be calm. It’ll go away.' ”

March 7: “It came out of China, and we heard about it. And made a good move: We closed it down; we stopped it. Otherwise — the head of CDC said last night that you would have thousands of more problems if we didn’t shut it down very early. That was a very early shutdown, which is something we got right.”

March 7: “We’re doing very well and we’ve done a fantastic job.”

March 8: Retweets a story about Surgeon General Jerome Adams playing down the risk of coronavirus for Trump personally.

March 9: “The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its semi-considerable power (it used to be greater!) to inflame the CoronaVirus situation, far beyond what the facts would warrant. Surgeon General, ‘The risk is low to the average American.’ ”

March 9: “So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!”

March 10: “As you know, it’s about 600 cases, it’s about 26 deaths, within our country. And had we not acted quickly, that number would have been substantially more.”

March 10: “And it hit the world. And we’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.”

March 11: “I think we’re going to get through it very well.”

March 12: “It’s going to go away. … The United States, because of what I did and what the administration did with China, we have 32 deaths at this point … when you look at the kind of numbers that you’re seeing coming out of other countries, it’s pretty amazing when you think of it.”

March 13: Says the Food and Drug Administration “will bring, additionally, 1.4 million tests on board next week and 5 million within a month. I doubt we’ll need anywhere near that.”

March 14: “We’re using the full power of the federal government to defeat the virus, and that’s what we’ve been doing.” Also retweeted supporter Candace Owens, who cited “good news” on the coronavirus, including that “Italy is hit hard, experts say, because they have the oldest population in Europe (average age of those that have died is 81).”

March 15: “This is a very contagious virus. It’s incredible. But it’s something that we have tremendous control over.”

March 16: “If you’re talking about the virus, no, that’s not under control for any place in the world. … I was talking about what we’re doing is under control, but I’m not talking about the virus.”

March 17: “We’re going to win. And I think we’re going to win faster than people think — I hope.”

March 23: “America will again and soon be open for business. … Parts of our country are very lightly affected.”

March 24: “You’re going to lose a number of people to the flu. But you’re going to lose more people by putting a country into a massive recession or depression.”

On seeking to reopen portions of the American economy by April 12: “It’s such an important day for other reasons, but I’ll make it an important day for this, too. … I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter.”

March 25: “There are large sections of our country — probably can go back to work much sooner than other sections. … It’s hard not to be happy with the job we’re doing, that I can tell you.”

March 26: “They have to go back to work; our country has to go back. Our country is based on that, and I think it’s going to happen pretty quickly.”

March 29: “So you’re talking about [worst-case scenarios of] 2.2 million deaths, 2.2 million people from this. And so if we could hold that down, as we’re saying, to 100,000 — it’s a horrible number, maybe even less — but to 100,000. So we have between 100 and 200,000, and we altogether have done a very good job.”

March 30: “New York is really in trouble, but I think it’s going to end up being fine. We’re loading it up, we’re stocking it up. … And then by a little short of June, maybe June 1, we think the — you know, it’s a terrible thing to say, but — we think the deaths will be at a very low number. It’ll be brought down to a very low number from right now, from where it’s getting to reach its peak.”

March 30: “Stay calm, it will go away. You know it is going away.”

March 31: “It's going to go away, hopefully at the end of the month and if not, it hopefully will be soon after that.”

April 2: “Our states, generally speaking, it's like lots of different countries all over. We have — many of those countries are doing a phenomenal job. They're really flat.”

April 3: “The CDC is advising the use of nonmedical cloth face covering as an additional voluntary public health measure. So it’s voluntary; you don’t have to do it.”

April 7: “It did — it will go away.”

April 9: “There are certain sections in the country that are in phenomenal shape already. Other sections are coming online; other sections are going down.”

April 10: “Hard to believe that if you had 60,000 [deaths] — you could never be happy, but that’s a lot fewer than we were originally told and thinking.”

April 22: “It may not come back at all [in the fall/winter].”

April 28: “This is going to go away. And whether it comes back in a modified form in the fall, we'll be able to handle it.”

April 29: “It's going to go. It's going to leave. It's going to be gone. It's going to be eradicated.”

May 5: “Will some people be affected? Yes. Will some people be affected badly? Yes. But we have to get our country open.”

May 5: “With or without a vaccine, it’s going to pass.”

May 6: “This virus is going to disappear. It’s a question of when.”

May 8: “This is going to go away without a vaccine.”

May 11: “We have met the moment, and we have prevailed. … We’ve prevailed on testing, is what I’m referring to.”

May 14: “If we didn’t do any testing, we would have very few cases.”

May 15: “It’ll go away — at some point, it’ll go away.”

May 19: “Many of these people aren’t very sick, but they still go down as a case.”

June 15: “Even without [widespread testing], you know, at some point this stuff goes away and it’s going away. Our numbers are much lower now.”

June 15: “If we stopped testing right now, we’d have very few cases, if any.”

June 16: “I always say, even without it [a vaccine], it goes away.”

June 17: “The numbers are very minuscule compared to what it was. It’s dying out.”

June 17: “It’s going to fade away. But having a vaccine would be really nice. And that’s going to happen.”

June 18: “America is better supplied and more prepared to [reopen] than, I would say, just about any other place.”

June 18: “It is dying out. The numbers are starting to get very good.”

June 20: “Many call it a virus, which it is. Many call it a flu, what difference?”

June 21: “Our Coronavirus testing is so much greater (25 million tests) and so much more advanced, that it makes us look like we have more cases, especially proportionally, than other countries.”

June 23: “You know, people get sick from the other also. It’s not just from the virus. They get sick from all of the other things that happen. You know what I mean.”

June 23: “Cases are going up in the U.S. because we are testing far more than any other country, and ever expanding. With smaller testing we would show fewer cases!”

June 25: “If we didn’t want to test, or if we didn’t test, we wouldn’t have cases. But we have cases because we test.”

June 25: “So when you do 30 million, you’re going to have a kid with the sniffles, and they’ll say it’s coronavirus — whatever you want to call it. … In some cases, it’s people that didn’t even know they were sick. Maybe they weren’t. But it shows up in a test.”

June 25: “Our Economy is roaring back and will NOT be shut down. ‘Embers’ or flare ups will be put out, as necessary!”

July 1: “I think we are going to be very good with the coronavirus. I think that, at some point, that’s going to sort of just disappear, I hope.”

July 2: “There is a rise in Coronavirus cases because our testing is so massive and so good, far bigger and better than any other country.”

July 4: “By so [so much testing], we show cases — 99 percent of which are totally harmless — results that no other country can show because no other country has testing that we have, not in terms of the numbers or in terms of the quality.”

July 5: “New China Virus Cases up (because of massive testing), deaths are down, ‘low and steady’. The Fake News Media should report this and also, that new job numbers are setting records!”

July 6: “Deaths from the China Virus are down 39%, while our great testing program continues to lead the World, by FAR! Why isn’t the Fake News reporting that Deaths are way down? It is only because they are, indeed, FAKE NEWS!”

July 9: “So we have tests; other countries don’t do tests like we do. So we show cases; other countries don’t show cases.”

July 9: “We have cases all over the place. Most of those cases immediately get better. They get — people — they’re young people. They have sniffles, and two days later, they are fine.”

July 9: “For the 1/100th time, the reason we show so many Cases, compared to other countries that haven’t done nearly as well as we have, is that our TESTING is much bigger and better. We have tested 40,000,000 people. If we did 20,000,000 instead, Cases would be half, etc. NOT REPORTED!”

July 14: “No other country tests like us. In fact, I could say it’s working too much. It’s working too well. We’re doing testing and we’re finding thousands and thousands of cases. If it’s a young guy who’s got sniffles, who’s you know 10 years old, gets tested, all of a sudden he’s a case and he’s gonna be better tomorrow.”

July 19: “It’s going to disappear and I’ll be right.”

July 21: “It will disappear.”

July 21: “You will never hear this on the Fake News concerning the China Virus, but by comparison to most other countries, who are suffering greatly, we are doing very well — and we have done things that few other countries could have done!”

July 22: “I say, ‘It’s going to disappear.’ And they say, ‘Oh, that’s terrible.’ … Well, it’s true. I mean, it’s going to disappear.”

July 31: “We have more Cases because we do more Testing. It’s Lamestream Media Gold!”

Aug. 1: “If we tested less, there would be less cases.”

Aug. 3: “It’s under control as much as you can control it.”

Aug. 3: “Cases up because of BIG Testing! Much of our Country is doing very well. Open the Schools!”

Aug. 5: “It will go away like things go away and my view is that schools should be open.”

Aug. 5: “No question in my mind, it will go away.”

Aug. 6: “So because we have the tests, we give them cases. Other countries that don’t do this testing, they don’t have cases.”

Aug. 7: “It’s going to disappear.”

Aug. 10: “It’s very interesting because we’re so far ahead of testing, we have more cases. If we had much smaller testing, would have fewer, but we feel that having testing is a very important thing.”

Aug. 11: “Many people get it and they have — like kids, they get it, they have the sniffles — young kids, almost none have a serious problem with it.”

Aug. 12: “When you do as much testing as us, however, as you understand, you develop more cases.”

Aug. 13: “It’s going to be going away.”

Aug. 17: “It’s going away, but we’re also going to have vaccines very soon.”

Aug. 17: “The China plague will fade.”

Aug. 17: “It’s going to be gone. And it’s going to be gone soon.”

Aug. 24: “It’s all coming back so fast that you’ll see it, and the pandemic goes away. The vaccines are going to be, I believe, announced very soon.”

Aug. 31: “Once you get to a certain number, you know, we use the word ‘herd,’ right? Once you get to a certain number, it’s going to go away.”

Aug. 31: “Our numbers are excellent, really, really good, and hopefully we’re rounding the final turn on that disaster given to us by China.”

Sept. 3: “We are rounding that turn, and vaccines are coming along great.”

Sept. 4: “We’re rounding the curve.”

Sept. 4: “And by the way, we’re rounding the corner. We’re rounding the corner on the virus.”

Sept. 4: “We’re rounding the bend, I feel that very strongly.”

Sept. 7: “We’re hopefully rounding the final turn in the pandemic.”

Sept. 8: “We’re rounding the turn on the pandemic.”

Sept. 8: “We are rounding the turn.”

Sept. 10: “I really do believe we’re rounding the corner.”

Sept. 10: “I think the vaccine is going to come very soon, very soon. And with it or without it, we’re rounding the turn.”

Sept. 12: “I think the virus, hopefully, is rounding the turn, rounding the corner. The vaccines are going to be out soon.”

Sept. 12: “We’re really rounding the corner. And this is actually without anything further than we already have … you can’t use the word cure yet, but pretty close to a cure.”

Sept. 12: “Now having a vaccine is good, but we’re rounding the turn regardless. We’re rounding the turn and it’s happening. I mean it’s happening. You see. Florida’s way down, Texas is now way down, Arizona, governor’s done a great job.”

Sept. 13: “We are rounding the corner on covid. We’re rounding it and rounding it rapidly, plus we have vaccines coming very soon and we have therapeutics which have already made a big dent, a tremendous dent.”

Sept. 15: “It is going away. And it’s probably going to go away now a lot faster because of the vaccines. It would go away without the vaccine, George, but it’s going to go away a lot faster with it.”

Sept. 16: “I think by [the election], covid will be even lower, it’s going to be very low.”

Sept. 16: “We’re rounding the corner of the plague, I mean on this whole horrible thing. We’re rounding the corner.”

Sept. 18: “We’re doing great, we’re rounding it with or without [a vaccine].”

Sept. 19: “...rounding the corner — when I say ‘rounding the corner’ they go crazy.”

Sept. 21: “We’re rounding the corner, with or without a vaccine.”

Sept. 21: “We’re rounding the corner in any event, but we’re going to have a vaccine very soon.”

Sept. 21: “It affects virtually nobody. It’s an amazing thing.”

Sept. 27: “They hate when I say that, the opposition. But we are — we’re rounding the turn on the pandemic.”

Sept. 28: “We’re rounding the corner.”

Sept. 29: “We’re weeks away from a vaccine. We’re doing therapeutics already. Fewer people are dying when they get sick. Far fewer people are dying. We’ve done a great job.”

Sept. 30: “We’re going to have the vaccine. We’re rounding the turn.”

Oct. 1: “The end of the pandemic is in sight.”

Oct. 1: “I think the vaccines are coming quickly. I do think it’s somewhat political. … The survival rate is so much better now than it was.”

Oct. 5: “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.”

Oct. 5: “Don’t let it dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it. You’re going to beat it."

Oct. 6: “Flu season is coming up! Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu. Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!”

Oct. 9: “In fact, we’re almost ready to hit a brand new stock market high in the middle of a pandemic, and I say rounding the corner of the pandemic.”

Oct. 10: “A lot of flare-ups. But it’s going to disappear; it is disappearing."

Oct. 11: “It looks like I’m immune for, I don’t know, maybe a long time, or maybe a short time. It could be a lifetime.”

Oct. 12: “Be strong and vigilant, it will run its course. Vaccines and cures are coming fast!”

Oct. 13: “I say it’s rounding the corner.”

Oct. 13: “...as we round the corner on the pandemic.”

Oct. 14: “We’re rounding the turn ... but most people — 99-point-something percent, if you get it, you get better.”

Oct. 14: “I don’t even think [Barron Trump] knew he had it because they’re young and their immune systems are strong and they fight it off 99.9 percent and Barron is beautiful and he’s free ... people have it and it goes.”

Oct. 15: “We are rounding the turn on the pandemic, by the way.”

Oct. 15: “We’re rounding the turn on the pandemic.”

Oct. 15: “Right now I’m fighting to eradicate the virus, and we’re doing really a good job, we’re rounding the turn.”

Oct. 15: “Excess mortality, we’re a winner on the excess mortality, and what we’ve done has been amazing and we have done an amazing job, and it’s rounding the corner and we have the vaccines coming and we have the therapies coming.”

Oct. 16: “The light at the end of the tunnel is near.”

Oct. 16: “We’re rounding the turn, it’s ending without the vaccine.”

Oct. 16: “You see the numbers and we’re rounding the turn.”

Oct. 17: “Even without [vaccines], we’re rounding the corner.”

Oct. 18: “The pandemic is rounding the turn.”

Oct. 19: “People are tired of covid. People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots.”

Oct. 19: “I know you don’t like saying this, but — and I believe we’re rounding the turn on the pandemic very substantially and the vaccines will come out.”

Oct. 19: “The pandemic, it’s rounding the turn, vaccines are coming, and I look fine, don’t I?”

Oct. 19: "They’re getting tired of the pandemic — aren’t they? Getting tired of the pandemic. You turn on CNN. That’s all they cover. Covid, covid, pandemic. Covid, covid, covid. You know why? They’re trying to talk people out of voting. People aren’t buying it, CNN, you dumb bastards.”

Oct. 20: “We are living with it and we’re having the vaccines coming out very soon. With or without the vaccines, we’re rounding the turn.”

Oct. 20: “We’re rounding the turn on the pandemic.”

Oct. 21: “The pandemic is rounding the corner.”

Oct. 22: “We are rounding the corner.”

Oct. 22: “It will go away. And as I say, we’re rounding the turn, we’re rounding the corner. It’s going away.”

Oct. 23: “We’ll have 100 million vaccine doses before the end of the year, and maybe substantially before, and that will help. It’s going away anyway."

Oct. 23: “On Nov. 4, you won’t hear anything about it [the pandemic], because we are rounding that turn.”

Oct. 24: “You know why there’s so many cases? Because we test. ... The fact is that we’re doing very well. The vaccines are coming out. The therapeutics are coming out.”

Oct. 24: “It’s going away, it’s rounding the turn. You know the vaccines are coming, right?”

Oct. 24: “We’re rounding the turn.”

Oct. 24: “It is going away. It’s rounding the turn.”

Oct. 25: “We’re rounding the turn. Even without the vaccines, we’re rounding the turn, it’s going to be over.”

Oct. 26: “We are absolutely rounding the corner, other than the fake news wants to scare everybody.”

Oct. 26: “We’re rounding the turn, you know, all they want to talk about is covid. By the way, on Nov. 4 you won’t be hearing so much about it.”

Oct. 26: “We’re rounding the turn. They hate it when I say it.”

Oct. 27: “We’re rounding the corner. It’s happening. We’re gonna emerge stronger than ever before.”

Oct. 27: “We’re rounding that beautiful turn and it’s going to be very good.”


Oct. 27: “Until November 4th., Fake News Media is going full on Covid, Covid, Covid. We are rounding the turn. 99.9%.”

Oct. 27: “Do you ever notice they don’t use the word ‘death,’ they use the word ‘cases?’ Cases. Like, Barron Trump is a case. He had sniffles.”

Oct. 28: “A safe vaccine is coming very quickly. You’re going to have it momentarily that eradicates the virus and we are rounding the turn regardless.”

Oct. 29: “Our vaccine will eradicate the virus. By the way, we have it, but whether we have it or not, it’s rounding the turn. It’s rounding the turn.”

Oct. 30: "We’re doing very well with respect to making the turn on the pandemic.”

Oct. 30: “Without it [vaccines], we’re still rounding the corner.”

Oct. 30: “We are rounding the turn on the pandemic.”

Oct. 30: “We’re rounding the turn on a pandemic."

Oct. 30: “Biden would lock us down forever. We are rounding the corner!”

Oct. 31: “We’re rounding the turn.”

Oct. 31: “With or without it [a vaccine] it’s going to go away.”

Oct. 31: “We’re rounding the corner.”

Oct. 31: “We’re rounding that turn, we’re rounding it.”

Oct. 31: “Gallup: 56% of the U.S. is more satisfied with conditions now, even during a pandemic (we are rounding the turn!), than they were 4 years ago under Obama/Biden. Hasn’t been equaled in recent times!”

Nov. 1: “We’re rounding the turn on a pandemic.”

Nov. 1: “You can have the vaccine, but without it, we’re rounding the corner.”

Nov. 1: “And look, we’re rounding — they hate when I say it, the fake news, but we’re rounding the turn.”

Nov. 1: “We come up [with] a safe vaccine that is ending the pandemic. By the way, it ends with or without. We’re rounding the turn.”

Nov. 1: “It’s rounding the turn.”

Nov. 2: “We’ll quickly eradicate the virus and wipe out the China plague once and for all. And let me tell you, we are rounding the corner anyway, but we have the vaccines coming very shortly.”

Nov. 2: “We’re rounding the corner.”

Nov. 2: “This election is also a choice between a deadly Biden lockdown and a safe vaccine that ends. And by the way, we’re rounding the turn anyway.”

Nov. 2: “We’re rounding the turn, by the way. They hate it when I say it.”