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Facebook removes Trump’s post with false claims comparing the flu to COVID-19

Facebook on Tuesday removed a post from President Donald Trump that appeared to downplay the severity of COVID-19 by comparing it to the seasonal flu.



a man wearing a suit and tie: President Donald Trump walks to Marine One prior to departure from the South Lawn of the White House, Oct. 2, 2020, as he heads to Walter Reed Military Medical Center, after testing positive for COVID-19.


© Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
President Donald Trump walks to Marine One prior to departure from the South Lawn of the White House, Oct. 2, 2020, as he heads to Walter Reed Military Medical Center, after testing positive for COVID-19.

The same post remains on Twitter, though it has been hit with a label on the platform identifying it as “spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19.”

“Flu season is coming up! Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu,” Trump wrote in the twin posts. “Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!”

A Facebook spokesperson told ABC News: “We remove incorrect information about the severity of COVID-19, and have now removed this post.”

MORE: Twitter accused of double standard with Trump death wish posts

Trump’s tweet comes just one day after he returned to the White House from the Walter Reed Medical Center where he was treated for COVID-19.



a man wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone: President Donald Trump walks to Marine One prior to departure from the South Lawn of the White House, Oct. 2, 2020, as he heads to Walter Reed Military Medical Center, after testing positive for COVID-19.


© Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
President Donald Trump walks to Marine One prior to departure from the South Lawn of the White House, Oct. 2, 2020, as he heads to Walter Reed Military Medical Center, after testing positive for COVID-19.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that the flu typically accounts for 12,000 to 61,000 deaths in the U.S. annually since 2010. That number has never risen above 100,000 in any year during that time period. More than 210,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 since March.

Shortly after his Facebook post was removed Tuesday, the president posted again, writing in all-caps: “REPEAL SECTION 230!!!”

His follow-up post refers to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which essentially shields online platforms from liability for content posted on their sites. Trump has previously said Section 230 provides social media behemoths “blanket immunity when they use their power to censor content and silence viewpoints that they dislike.”

This is not the first time Trump has equated the novel coronavirus to the common flu. In a March 9 tweet, the president wrote, “So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!”

Medical experts have long cautioned equating the seasonal flu to COVID-19, and warned the latter is a much more severe illness.

For one, COVID-19 is a novel virus, meaning much remains unknown about its path, spread and danger. Moreover, COVID-19 remains extremely dangerous because so many people show minimal or no symptoms at onset, which can potentially accelerate person-to-person transmission. The flu also

Doctors disturbed after Trump removes his mask upon returning to the White House

“What White House staffer would still wanna go to work tomorrow???” Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and health economist with the Federation of American Scientists, said in a tweet Monday night. “Epidemiologists just wanna vomit.”

Dozens of medical professionals and commentators echoed Feigl-Ding’s concerns Monday night, slamming the president for posing and then reentering the White House without a mask even though he is still suffering symptoms of covid-19.

Some medical experts were not just concerned for White House staff, but for the president himself.

Ilan Schwartz, an assistant professor at the University of Alberta’s division of infectious diseases, said the president appeared to be struggling to breathe in a brief clip that showed him standing outside the White House.

“This is a textbook example of increased work of breathing,” Schwartz tweeted.

A White House spokesman responded to Monday’s widespread criticisms, saying the White House is taking “every precaution necessary” to protect the president, his family and staff.

“Physical access to the President will be significantly limited and appropriate PPE will be worn when near him,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in an email. “President Trump will continue to receive around-the-clock medical care and monitoring from his Physician and a team of dedicated physicians and nurses in the White House Medical Unit who function out of a state-of-the-art clinic, which includes many of the things a person would see in an urgent care clinic and much more, to ensure the Commander-in-Chief makes a full recovery and can continue to discharge his duties.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people diagnosed with covid-19 wait at least 10 days after the onset of symptoms and go at least 24 hours without a fever before having contact with other people. Asymptomatic carriers who test positive for the virus but do not experience symptoms should wait 10 days after their positive test, the CDC says. And those who suffer a severe case of covid-19 may need to isolate longer, up to 20 days after getting sick.

Trump’s maskless moment at the White House and a short drive he took Sunday with several Secret Service agents to greet supporters outside of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center appear to violate those recommendations.

CNN’s chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta was also among the doctors disturbed by the president’s actions on Monday.

“There is stuff that is pretty reckless, but at some point it’s just becoming absurd,” Gupta said, according to a tweet shared by one of his colleagues at CNN. “A person with known contagious deadly disease — without a mask on — is walking into the residence. Other people are around him.”

The heightened risk of coronavirus for people working within the White House has had many on high-alert as the virus spread quickly among individuals who had close contact with Trump last week. At least 10 people who attended a ceremony in the Rose Garden last week to mark the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett have since tested

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