A Pattern of Downplaying COVID-19: A Closer Look into how the Trump Administration and the Bolsonaro Administration have handled COVID-19

By: Jillian Blumenthal, 2L


A year ago, almost no one could have imagined the changes that the COVID-19 pandemic brought to societies across the globe. Words such as quarantine and social distancing began to dominate our vocabulary. Countries around the world have taken different approaches in an attempt to combat COVID-19. Some of the approaches taken have been less successful than others. This article will focus on the Trump Administration’s handling of COVID-19 in the United States and the Bolsonaro Administration’s handling of COVID-19 in Brazil.

As of October 13, 2020, the United States has 7,682,128 cases of COVID-19, the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world.  Brazil has 5,094,979 cases. That number makes Brazil the country with the third highest number of cases in the world. Both countries have faced intense criticism for each of their respective administration’s handling of COVID-19. Moreover, many have argued that the Bolsonaro Administration’s handling of the pandemic has been similar to the Trump Administration’s handling of the pandemic. For example, an article in The Atlantic states “they’ve both resisted social distancing, lashed out against lockdowns, and compared the coronavirus to the flu.” Bolsonaro has downplayed the virus and referred to COVID-19 as “a ‘little flu.’” Similarly, President Trump has also compared COVID-19 to the flu.Additionally, both Bolsonaro and Trump have promoted the opening of businesses, even while the pandemic has remained a huge threat to lives. Both have also praised the drug hydroxychloroquine, even while the science did not support their claims.

Additionally, both Bolsonaro and Trump have also refused to wear masks at times. In Brazil, a federal court even had to order Bolsonaro to wear a mask. The order came with a fine of about $386 a day if he failed to comply. Trump has also refused to wear a mask most of the time. After Trump was released from the hospital, President Trump removed his maskafter climbing up the stairs of the White House. While both Bolsonaro and Trump have each contracted COVID-19themselves, neither Bolsonaro’s nor Trump’s experience of having COVID-19 changed the way in which they each characterized the virus. Instead, both continued downplaying it. President Trump even held a public rally after recovering, and he did not require social distancing measures or mask usage.

With COVID-19 still posing a significant threat to the lives of many across the globe, many are left thinking and wondering about the lives that arguably could have been saved with different enforcement measures.


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