Trump Says CDC Director Was ‘Misquoted’ on Second Virus Wave

April 23, 2020 Updated: April 23, 2020

President Donald Trump began his Wednesday news conference by saying that the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had been “misquoted” in a Washington Post interview in which he said next winter might be “more difficult” than the current CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.

“I do want to mention, a man who’s done a very good job for us, Dr. Robert Redfield was totally misquoted in the media about the fall season and the virus. Totally misquoted. I spoke to him and he said it was ridiculous,” the president said during the daily Coronavirus Task Force briefing at the White House.

“He was talking about the flu and corona coming together at the same time, and corona could be just some little flare-ups that we’ll take care of, we will knock it out. We’ll knock it out fast. That’s what he was referring to, coming together at the same time,” Trump continued.

The president then summoned Redfield to the microphone to clarify his remarks, and the CDC director confirmed that he had been quoted accurately in the Post but that the headline, which said Redfield had warned that a “second wave of coronavirus is likely to be even more devastating,” was misleading.

“I think it is important to clarify this as we build the confidence of the American people. When I commented yesterday there was a possibility of a fall-winter [outbreak] to be more difficult, more complicated, and we had two respiratory illnesses circulating—flu and the coronavirus,” he said. “But it is important to emphasize. I didn’t say this was going to be worse. I said it was going to be more difficult, and potentially complicated because we will have flu and coronavirus circulating at the same time,” he added.

Redfield said he had issued the warning to encourage the American public to embrace the flu vaccine with confidence and thus minimize the impact of flu.

“The issue that I was talking about, about being more difficult, is that we’re going to have two viruses circulating at the same time,” he said. “Next fall and winter, we are going to have two viruses circulating, and we’re going to have to distinguish between which is flu and which is the coronavirus,” he added. “And so the comment that I made, it’s more difficult. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be impossible. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be more, as some people have said, worse. It just means it’s… more difficult because we have to distinguish between the two.”

The CDC director’s comments came hours after Trump complained about the Washington Post report that included the top health official’s remarks, saying on Twitter that the CDC chief would make a clarifying statement after he was “totally misquoted by Fake News.”

In his April 21 interview with the Post, Redfield said the United States needs to prepare for the winter virus to be even more difficult than the current pandemic and urged them to remain cautious as they move to reopen their economies and continue to practice social distancing measures.

“There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,” Redfield warned. “And when I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean,” he added.

However, if Americans continue to practice social distancing, Redfield said this “may allow there to be a hospital bed available for your mother or grandmother that may get coronavirus,” adding that social distancing has had “an enormous impact” in containing the CCP virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.