Trump claims he had no idea people die of influenza despite his grandfather dying from the virus

Frederick Trump of Queens, New York, died from the Spanish flu in 1918

Danielle Zoellner
New York
Saturday 07 March 2020 22:03
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Last Week Tonight host John Oliver addresses Donald Trump's contradiction to the coronavirus case

President Donald Trump made the claim when speaking about the flu that he had no clue people could die from the virus - despite it taking the life of his grandfather.

Mr Trump's claim came while he was in Atlanta, Georgia, on Friday to visit the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters and meet with health officials about the coronavirus.

During a press conference, the president spoke about the number of people getting infected by the coronavirus and how it compared to influenza.

"Over the last long period of time, you have an average of 36,000 people dying (per year)," he said about the flu.

Mr Trump continued: "I never heard those numbers. I would've been shocked. I would've said, 'Does anybody die from the flu? I didn't know people died from the flu.' ... And again, you had a couple of years where it was over a 100,000 people died from the flu."

In recent years, about 12,000 to 61,000 people in America have died from the flu in the course of one season, according to data from the CDC. An estimated 34,000 died from the flu last season.

So the president was correct on his figures when attempting to calm fears of the coronavirus. But he was incorrect, or misinformed, about not knowing anyone who has ever died from the virus, the Daily Beast reported.

Frederick Trump, the president's grandfather, became one of the first people to die during the first wave of the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918 while living in Queens, New York.

Donald Trump's grandfather Frederick Trump died from the Spanish flu in 1918. The flue killed more than 675,000 people in the US 

One day in May he was taking a walk with his son when he suddenly felt ill. He went home and died the next day.

A second wave hit the US later that year following Frederick's death, and an estimated 675,000 people died in the country from the flu in total. Globally, the Spanish flu killed an estimated 50 to 100 million people.

Frederick's son, also named Frederick, was only 12 years old when his father died. He would go on to welcome his fourth child, a son named Donald, with his wife in 1946.

The amount of people who died during the Spanish flu was worsened by President Woodrow Wilson and his administration talking down about the health crisis. Experts have now criticised Trump and his own administration over how its handling the current coronavirus outbreak.

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