Did Trump Suggest Sending Infected COVID-19 Patients to Guantánamo Bay in the Early Days of the Outbreak?

Trump reportedly made the suggestion during a meeting with White House officials in the Situation Room in February 2020.

Recently, there have been reports claiming former U.S. President Donald Trump considered sending Americans infected with COVID-19 to Guantanamo Bay in an effort to stem the rapidly growing number of cases on U.S. soil in the early days of the pandemic.

The Hill , Forbes, and Vanity Fair were among the outlets that reported about Trump's absurd suggestion, citing a forthcoming book authored by two WaPo journalists.

According to the book, penned by Yasmeen Abutaleb, a health policy reporter at The Washington Post, and Damian Paletta, an economics editor for the newspaper, Trump twice floated the idea of sending infected Americans abroad to the Naval Base in Cuba instead of bringing them home.

'Don't We Have an Island We Own?'

Donald Trump
Donald Trump (left) and inmates at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center in Cuba. Twitter

The book, titled Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration's Response to the Pandemic That Changed History, is slated to release on June 29. Therefore, its exact contents are not yet known.

However,The Washington Post said it obtained an early copy of the book, and using that pre-published version, the newspaper published excerpts in a June 21 article that noted that as White House officials debated whether to bring infected Americans back home for care, Trump suggested sending them to Gitmo in order to suppress the numbers on U.S. soil.

"Don't we have an island that we own?" the president was quoted as asking the officials assembled in the Situation Room in February 2020, before the outbreak exploded in the United States. "What about Guantánamo?"

"We import goods," Trump added, according to the article. "We are not going to import a virus."

The article also noted that aides that were present in the room were "stunned" by Trump's suggestion to send quarantining American tourists to the same place where they detained terrorism suspects.

Fact-Check: Unverified

According to the article, it is unclear when exactly in February 2020, Trump made the comments, or whether he was joking, or serious when he made the remarks. Also, it is not yet known who Abutaleb and Paletta received the information from, presuming the writers did not hear it firsthand in the Situation Room.

The book was compiled based on interviews with more than 180 people, including multiple White House senior staff members and government health leaders, the article stated. Therefore, the truth of the claim cannot be determined until the journalists' reporting can be substantiated.

Related topics : Coronavirus