Donald Trump misidentified the first American victim of the coronavirus on Saturday, saying the man from Washington state who died from the virus was a “wonderful woman.”
As the New York Post noted, Trump gave public comments after the first American died after contracting the fast-spreading virus. The victim, who was actually a man, reportedly became ill while working in a long-term care center in Kirkland, Washington, and died overnight on Friday.
In his comment, Trump referred to the victim as a woman, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced afterward that Trump’s briefing on the death had incorrectly identified the victim as a woman. Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the CDC, tweeted that the agency briefed both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in the day before Trump’s public statement.
The CDC is taking responsibility for the president saying the first coronavirus fatality was a woman, when it was a man. https://t.co/iaQP2Lw7Fw— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) February 29, 2020
Authorities said that the man had an underlying health condition that left him vulnerable to the virus. He was reported to be a man in his 50s.
While this was the first person in the United States to die from the coronavirus, an American had already died from the virus in the city of Wuhan, China. That was where the virus outbreak first started late last year.
In a statement on Saturday, Pence offered condolences to the family of the first coronavirus victim inside the United States.
“I want to assure that family they are on the hearts of every American,” Pence said, via CNN.
Members of the Trump administration tried to project calmness amid predictions that the virus would continue to spread. Alex Azar, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, said that most people who contract the virus would not be at severe risk.
“It’s important to remember, for the vast majority of individuals who contract the novel coronavirus, they will experience mild to moderate symptoms, and their treatment will be to remain at home, treating their symptoms, the way they would a severe cold, or the flu,” he said.
But Trump has also been defiant at times, saying at a rally on Friday that the virus is a “hoax” perpetrated by his political opponents. On Saturday, Trump clarified that he did not view it as a hoax, despite his statements on Friday.
“No, no, no hoax,” Trump told reporters, via Politico.
“Whether it’s the impeachment hoax or the ‘Russia, Russia, Russia’ hoax. This is what I’m talking about. Certainly not referring to this. How could anybody refer to this? This is very serious.”