Fact Check: Joe Biden Appears to Blame Trump for Coronavirus Deaths

The White House

CLAIM: Coronavirus was met with “silence” and “denials” a year ago, which “led to more deaths.”

VERDICT: MOSTLY FALSE. China denied responsibility, but President Donald Trump acted immediately — partly over Joe Biden’s objections.

President Joe Biden addressed the nation from the White House for the first time on Thursday night to mark the one-year anniversary of the coronavirus shutdown that was announced by then-President Donald Trump in the Oval Office.

Biden began by suggesting Trump was to blame: “A year ago, we were hit with a virus, that was met with silence. It spread unchecked. Denials for days, weeks, then months. That led to more deaths, more infections, more stress, and more loneliness.”

But by March 11, 2020, President Trump had already taken many decisive actions against the coronavirus. And while he was wrong when he suggested that the pandemic would be over quickly, and admitted downplaying its impact so people would not panic, Trump was never silent about COVID-19, nor did he deny that it posed serious risks to Americans’ public health.

The only “silence” was from Congress, where Democrats were busy impeaching Trump, wasting precious weeks on politics:

  • January 11: Chinese state media report the first known death from an illness originating in the Wuhan market.
  • January 15: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds a vote to send articles of impeachment to the Senate. Pelosi and House Democrats celebrate the “solemn” occasion with a signing ceremony, using commemorative pens. That same day, the first person with coronavirus in the United States arrives from China, where he had been in Wuhan.
  • January 21: The first American case of coronavirus is confirmed at a clinic in Snohomish County, Washington.
  • January 23: The House impeachment managers make their opening arguments for removing President Trump.
  • January 23: China closes off the city of Wuhan completely to slow the spread of coronavirus to the rest of China.
  • January 27: The White House convenes a special task force to deal with the emerging threat of coronavirus.
  • January 29: The president chairs a meeting of the White House coronavirus task force for the first time.
  • January 30: Senators begin asking two days of questions of both sides in the president’s impeachment trial.
  • January 30: The World Health Organization declares a global health emergency as coronavirus continues to spread.
  • January 31: The Senate holds a vote on whether to allow further witnesses and documents in the impeachment trial.
  • January 31: President Trump declares a national health emergency and imposes a ban on travel to and from China. Former Vice President Joe Biden calls Trump’s decision “hysterical xenophobia … and fear-mongering.”
  • February 2: The first death from coronavirus outside China is reported in the Philippines.
  • February 3: House impeachment managers begin closing arguments, calling Trump a threat to national security.
  • February 4: President Trump talks about coronavirus in his State of the Union address; Pelosi rips up every page.
  • February 5: The Senate votes to acquit President Trump on both articles of impeachment, 52-48 and 53-47.
  • February 5: House Democrats finally take up coronavirus in the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia.

China denied that the coronavirus could be transmitted among humans, and even denied that it originated in Wuhan. Biden opposed Trump’s travel ban on China for more than two months, finally admitting in April 2020 that it was the correct policy.

Far from “silence,” Trump warned that the coronavirus was a serious risk — even while offering rosy predictions of success in keeping it from spreading.

On January 30, 2020, for example, Trump told a rally in Des Moines, Iowa (emphasis added):

Hopefully everything’s going to be great. They have somewhat of a problem, but hopefully it’s all going to be great. But, we’re working with China just so you know, and other countries very, very closely, so it doesn’t get out of hand, but it’s something that we have to be very, very careful with, right? We have to be very careful.

Biden and other Democrats refused to work with President Trump. Instead, they suggested he should give up authority. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) gave a national address about the pandemic and did not even mention Trump.

When Trump launched Operation Warp Speed, Biden and other Democrats spread doubts about the effort. Biden said during the final presidential debate that there was “no prospect that there’s going to be a vaccine available for the majority of the American people before the middle of next year.”

That prospect is now a reality — but instead of thanking Trump for his efforts, Biden continues to suggest that Americans’ deaths and suffering from a global pandemic is uniquely Trump’s fault.

President Biden closed his address by claiming that success in the fight against the pandemic depended on “national unity.”

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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