Trump doesn't know if China's COVID-19 figures are accurate

White House holds briefing as task force presses for social distancing to continue
Posted at 3:44 PM, Apr 01, 2020

President Donald Trump addressed reports that China has not been upfront in reporting COVID-19 cases.

As of Wednesday, the number of confirmed cases in China sits at just over 82,000. But Trump called those numbers, "light."

"Their numbers seemed to be a little bit on the light side," Trump said. "And I'm being nice when I say that relative to what we witnessed and what was reported."

What is known is the virus originated in China in December and spread through the Hubei province, forcing extreme measures to shut down commerce in the province. Many of those provisions then were used nationally to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Reports of the new virus became known to the world on Dec. 31 when China reported its discovery of the virus to the World Health Organization on Dec. 31. But what China knew in the days and week leading up to that announcement remains unknown.

Despite western countries, including the United States, placing travel restrictions on some travelers from China, the virus made it out of the country.

While questions have come up on China's handling and reporting of COVID-19, Trump said he still maintains a good relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

"But we have a great trade deal and we'd like to keep it, they'd like to keep it, and the relationship is good as to whether or not their numbers are accurate, Trump said, "Uh, I'm not an accountant from China."

On Tuesday, White House infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci agreed that Americans should prepare for more than 100,000 COVID-19 related deaths in upcoming months.

Fauci stressed that social distancing guidelines need to remain in place in order to keep the death toll related to COVID-19 illnesses down. The White House issued projections that 100,000 to 240,000 Americans could die from COVID-19 related illnesses even with social distancing mitigation. Those projections would skyrocket to over 1 million without any social distancing.

"And that's the reason -- my plea at the end of my remarks that now is the time to put your foot on the accelerator, because that's the only thing that's going to stop those peaks," Fauci said.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump was pressed on issuing a national stay-at-home order, akin to those being issued in states like New York, California, Illinois and Ohio. Until Wednesday, Florida had opted not to issue a stay-at-home order.

"Different kind of a state," Trump said. "Also, great governor. He knows exactly what he’s doing. Has a very strong view on it. And we have spoken to (Gov.) Ron (DeSantis).

Justin Boggs is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @jjboggs or on Facebook .