Intended for healthcare professionals


Trump claims public health warnings on covid-19 are a conspiracy against him

BMJ 2020; 368 doi: (Published 06 March 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m941

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  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal

US public health officials are struggling to overcome conflicting messaging on covid-19 from the White House, as Donald Trump seems to want to downplay the threat, hoping to minimise economic disruption that could harm his chances of re-election in November.

The virus seized Trump’s attention on his 26 February return from India, as he watched on the screens of Air Force One the first stock market plunge driven by pandemic fears. He took to Twitter to complain that “Low Ratings Fake News . . . are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus [sic] look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible.”

The president was particularly incensed about an infectious disease expert at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Nancy Messonnier, whom he blamed for triggering the market slide by announcing that community spread was ultimately inevitable in the US. That night, the talk radio host Rush Limbaugh denounced Messonnier on his show, noting that her brother was Rod Rosenstein, …

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