Fact check: Trump did host rallies, play golf as as COVID-19 outbreak ramped up

President Donald Trump golfs at one of his courses. The president hit the links several times between January and March 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic unfolded.

The claim: Trump held rallies, golfed throughout the start of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak

As coronavirus has spread in the United States, the Trump administration has faced criticism about the scope and speed of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There have been more than 30,000 American deaths so far as some states scramble to accommodate taxed hospital systems.

In late March, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said the government may have been too distracted by impeachment hearings to focus on a response to the coronavirus. 

McConnell’s comments were disputed, including in a response from President Donald Trump in which he said he wouldn’t have handled the coronavirus any better without impeachment. 

On social media, users began sharing a list of dates that purported to show all of the times Trump went golfing or held rallies after being warned about the pandemic. The post implies that if Trump had time for leisure and campaign activities, then the administration should have had time to address the coronavirus.

The list of dates was shared on other social media platforms and comments from posters used the dates to refute McConnell’s claim about impeachment distraction.

The timeline

Trump was impeached on Dec. 19. The trial ended Feb. 5, when the Senate acquitted him. 

On Jan. 8, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued its first alert advising U.S. clinicians to watch for patients with respiratory symptoms and a travel history to Wuhan, China.It’s unclear exactly when the president was first notified about the potential of a pandemic.

On Jan. 20, the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was appeared in the U.S., in Washington state.

On Jan. 22, when CNBC asked him if there were any concerns about the virus spreading in the U.S., Trump said, “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.”

On Jan. 31, Trump implemented China travel restrictions, a move he often points to when defending his administration’s actions to address the pandemic. That day, the CDC reported seven cases of coronavirus in the U.S.

By Feb. 4, there were 11 confirmed cases in the U.S.

On Feb. 25, CDC official Nancy Messonnier warned that a coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. was inevitable.

On Feb. 28, at a Charleston, South Carolina, rally, Trump called the coronavirus the Democrats’ “new hoax.” That day, there were 59 confirmed cases and two coronavirus deaths in the United States, according to the World Health Organization. There were 4,691 cases around the globe.

Throughout February and early March, Trump insisted the U.S. had the coronavirus under control and that Americans should stay calm. At a televised visit to the CDC on March 6, Trump said the coronavirus “came out of nowhere.”  

During this time, Trump played golf on Jan. 18 and 19, Feb. 1 and 15, and March 7 and 8, according to the Trump Golf Count website.

He hosted rallies on Jan. 9 (Toledo, Ohio); 14 (Milwaukee), 28 (Wildwood, N.J.) and 30 (Des Moines, Iowa), as well as Feb. 10 (Manchester, N.H.), 19 (Phoenix), 20 (Colorado Springs), 21 (Las Vegas) and 28 (Charleston, S.C.). 

On March 11, the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Additional European travel bans were implemented on the same day, but restrictions for the United Kingdom didn’t come until two days later, after people re-entered the U.S. from Britain and Ireland. 

On March 16, the White House released social distancing guidelines to limit gatherings of no more than 10 people. 

On March 17, Trump changed from his previous statements that the virus would not severely impact the U.S. and said, “This is a pandemic. … I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”

Our ruling: True

The information in this post has been rated true because Trump did host rallies and play golf on the listed dates in the early stages of the coronavirus spread. 

Our fact-check sources:

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