Will County area Democrats slammed President Donald Trump after the release of recordings of him telling journalist Bob Woodward he knew the novel coronavirus was "deadly" back in February while publicly minimizing the risk.
Trump appeared to understand the seriousness of COVID-19 when he spoke to Woodward, according to audio recordings of on-the-record interviews published by multiple news outlets. On March 19, the president told Woodward he deliberately minimized the danger, saying "I wanted to always play it down." Trump explained his stance by arguing that he didn't want to create a panic.
Local Democrats accused Trump of misleading the public about the threat of the virus.
U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, said on his congressional Facebook page that 190,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 "because of his dishonesty and failure."
"President Trump intentionally lied to the American people about the seriousness of COVID-19," Foster said in the post. "Instead of doing what was needed to save lives, in his own words, he chose to 'play it down.'"
Foster added in a subsequent post, "How many lives could have been saved if Trump had actually been honest about the danger posed by the coronavirus? #TrumpKnew."
Dani Brzozowski, the Democratic nominee challenging U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, in the 16th Congressional District, said in a lengthy Facebook post that Trump "let our neighbors die and our families starve."
"This was not ignorance, it was deliberate," she said in the post. "The President of the United States of America deliberately withheld information from the people of this country."
Brzozowski also cited the thousands of small businesses which have closed and the millions of jobs lost due to the mitigations implemented to slow the spread of the virus. She argued the country's economic downturn "rests squarely at the feet of this President."
More than 8,200 Illinoisans have died from COVID-19, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.