Donald Trump wanted to send Americans who had Covid to Guantanamo Bay to stop them spreading the disease across the United States, a new book has claimed.
In the early stages of the pandemic, it is alleged that Mr Trump suggested that Americans infected abroad should not be brought back home for care, but should instead be isolated at the military base in Cuba.
“Don’t we have an island that we own?” the president reportedly asked officials assembled in the Situation Room in February 2020.
“What about Guantanamo?”
He allegedly brought up the idea a second time, saying: “We import goods. We are not going to import a virus.”
Guantanamo is home to suspected terrorists, including some of the alleged ringleaders of the 9/11 attacks
Credit: Shane Mccoy/Mai/Mai/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images
The idea, reported in “Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration’s Response to the Pandemic That Changed History,” by Washington Post journalists Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta, was never enacted.
Shocked aides argued that the optics of sending American tourists to the same place as some of the world’s most dangerous terror suspects were not good and could in fact cost lives.
When 14 infected Americans were brought back to the United States from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, Mr Trump allegedly wanted to fire the state department official who organised the repatriation.
The decision “doubles my numbers overnight,” the president is alleged to have said, noting that the number of known cases in the country was only 14 at that point.
It has also been claimed that Mr Trump’s erratic and confused responses to the pandemic slowed down the response of health officials.
For example, at a press conference, Mr Trump asked Dr Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, if bleach could be injected into people to kill the virus.
In the following weeks, the number of accidental poisonings was 121 per cent higher than a year before, while a Centre for Disease Control study of 500 people found that 4 per cent had consumed or gargled diluted bleach solutions, soapy water and other disinfectants in an effort to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
Dr Birx was criticised for not correcting Mr Trump and the CDC had to issue a number of statements urging people not to drink bleach to fight coronavirus.
Mr Trump’s office was approached for comment.