The pandemic that thrust the United States into a national health crisis was repeatedly dismissed by President Donald Trump during its early stages, when prevention was most feasible.
Trump ignored simulations and intelligence briefings that warned the United States was not prepared for a pandemic. Then, the first US cases began getting diagnosed.
Trump and his administration continued to claim that the threat of the virus was being overblown by journalists determined to undermine his presidency.
Once the United States had reached 15 cases in February, the President said that cases would be down to zero in a week, and that the virus would disappear like a "miracle."
As recently as last month, the President compared the virus to a common flu—a talking point that his own officials warned would worsen the spread.
Trump reluctantly gave up an effort to have businesses and gatherings in the country back up and running by Easter, after health experts warned that wouldn't be enough time to slow the spread of the virus.
With Trump finally acknowledging the dangers of the pandemic, it might not be surprising that Vice President Mike Pence tried to convince Americans in a CNN interview that Trump had been taking the threat seriously all along.
Pence said to CNN's Wolf Blitzer:
"I don't believe the President has ever belittled the threat of [the virus]...the American people can be assured that President Trump is going to continue to be confident that we will meet this moment."
Wolf was quick to bring the receipts:
"He was saying at one point it wasn't as bad as the regular flu, and he was talking about automobile accidents. He seemed to be suggesting, at one point, there were 15 cases that would get down to zero very quickly."
"The President is an optimistic person. We've been, from the very beginning when the President suspended all travel from China and stood up the...task force in January, we have been hoping for the best but planning for the worst."
A nationwide shortage of medical equipment and the President's reluctance to use federal powers to distribute resources to the states seem to contradict Pence's assurances.
People saw through his talking points.
Health experts—including those on Trump's task force—predict up to 240,000 deaths will still occur even with a nationwide lockdown, for which Trump has yet to call.
The President recently said that fewer than 200,000 deaths would mean his administration did a "good job," though many of these deaths could have been prevented with a more robust initial response.
Though Trump may find 200,000 deaths acceptable, others do not.
Don't fall for it.