Fact Check: The Coronavirus Scare Did NOT Start Immediately After Impeachment

Fact Check

  • by: Wayne Drash
Fact Check: The Coronavirus Scare Did NOT Start Immediately After Impeachment

Did the coronavirus scare start immediately after impeachment in a plan to upend U.S. President Donald Trump? No, that's not true: That is a theory being spread by conservatives, ignoring the fact the outbreak began in China in late 2019, and it led to the World Health Organization to declare a global health emergency on January 30, 2020, before the final impeachment vote.

The Trump administration restricted travel from China the day after the WHO declaration, on January 31, 2020. By then, 213 people had died and more than 9,800 people had been infected worldwide. The virus has continued to spread rapidly across the world in the weeks since, with more than 125,000 cases reported worldwide, including more than 4,600 deaths, according to the WHO. The WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020.

The seriousness of the outbreak has not stopped those on social media coming up with their own theories. On the same day the WHO declared a pandemic, Facebook user "Upset Californian Conservative" published a post (archived here) on March 11, 2020, beginning with "Who else agrees?" It then said:


The claim is false.The facts are clear: The outbreak began before Trump was acquitted by the U.S. Senate on two articles - abuse of power and obstruction of Congress - in early February. The virus also does not distinguish between countries, as is clear from the global scale of the pandemic that started in Wuhan, China. And Trump himself was set to announce a national emergency, according to Bloomberg News.

The "Upset Californian Conservative" user who posted the message has more than 30,000 followers. According to a pinned post, the page was created in March 2018 "by an incredibly UPSET and frustrated CALIFORNIAN CONSERVATIVE. It is a constitutional right to speak freely on fb or "any" other platform."

The political sentiment of the "fix is in for Trump" is gaining traction among many Republicans or other Trump supporters, partly fueled by Trump himself. As recently as Monday, March 9, of this week, the president slammed the "Fake News Media" for inflaming the coronavirus situation.

A day later, the WHO issued a tweet of its own warning that "misinformation and rumors" can spread much more quickly than the virus.

On Friday, March 13, 2020, the New York Times published an exclusive under the headline "The Worst-Case Estimate for U.S. Coronavirus Deaths" that said officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and epidemic experts from universities around the world met last month to discuss what might happen if the coronavirus took hold in the United States. The story noted the serious concern health officials had over the growing outbreak:

Between 160 million and 214 million people in the U.S. could be infected over the course of the epidemic, according to one projection. That could last months or even over a year, with infections concentrated in shorter periods, staggered across time in different communities, experts said. As many as 200,000 to 1.7 million people could die.

As of this writing, nearly 1,700 cases have been reported in the United States with 41 deaths, according to the CDC. Shortages of test kits have been reported across the nation - a problem the federal government's top infectious-disease doctor called a "failing" in testimony before Congress.

"The system is not really geared to what we need right now. That is a failing. It is a failing. Let's admit it." - Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

The administration announced Friday, March 13, 2020, that it was working to expand testing. And at least one company has announced it was close to completing a test that would yield results 10 times quicker than the currents tests.
Hoping to curb the outbreak, major sporting events across the country have been postponed or canceled altogether - from the NBA to Major League Soccer to college sporting events, including the "March Madness" basketball tournament. Schools and universities have been canceling classes as well.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.

  Wayne Drash

Wayne Drash, a staff writer and fact-checker for Lead Stories, is a former senior producer and writer for CNN’s Health team, telling narratives about life and the unfolding drama of the world we live on. He specialized in covering complex major issues, such as health insurance, the opioid epidemic and Big Pharma.


Read more about or contact Wayne Drash

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