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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

Trump downplays coronavirus by comparing it to flu

President TrumpDonald John TrumpState Department revokes visa of Giuliani-linked Ukrainian ally: report White House Gift Shop selling ‘Trump Defeats COVID’ commemorative coin Biden says he should not have called Trump a clown in first debate MORE on Tuesday sought to downplay the coronavirus by comparing it to the flu, even though coronavirus has killed many more people than the flu has in recent years. 

“Flu season is coming up! Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu,” Trump tweeted. “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!!!”

 

The coronavirus has already killed more than 210,000 Americans. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, the deadliest flu season in recent years was 2017-2018 when it killed an estimated 61,000 people. And many seasons were much lower; 23,000 people died of the flu during the 2015-2016 season. 

“Doctors and scientists are working to estimate the mortality rate of COVID-19, but at present, it is thought to be substantially higher (possibly 10 times or more) than that of most strains of the flu,” a Johns Hopkins University fact sheet reads.

Experts say coronavirus deaths could be even higher if it were not for the measures put in place to slow the spread, from business closures to mask wearing.  

Trump himself, appearing with his coronavirus task force in late March, pointed to estimates that as many as 2.2 million Americans could die from coronavirus if it were not for the measures taken to slow the spread. 

“Think of the number: 2.2 — potentially 2.2 million people if we did nothing,” Trump said then.  

Trump also told journalist Bob Woodward in early February: “It’s also more deadly than your — you know, your, even your strenuous flus.” 

Trump has sought several times to downplay the virus in recent days, despite being diagnosed with COVID-19 on Friday.

Before being released from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday, where he was being treated, he posted a tweet that said “Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid.”

He posted a video with a similar message upon returning to the White House on Monday. 

“Don’t let