Former US President Donald Trump had last year reportedly mulled sending American nationals infected with the coronavirus to the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba in order to contain the COVID-19 outbreak on American, according to a new book.
Former Trump administration officials told reporters that Trump in February 2020, during a meeting in the Situation Room in the White House, suggested that the infected Americans should be sent to Guantanamo Bay, according to the new book, “Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration’s Response to the Pandemic That Changed History,” written by Washington Post journalists Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta.
“Don’t we have an island that we own?” Trump asked his administration officials, and then added: “What about Guantánamo?”
“We import goods,” Trump reportedly lectured his staff, adding, “We are not going to import a virus.”
Trump’s aides were reportedly shocked by his suggestion to quarantine American tourists on the same military base where Washington detains terrorism suspects.
The Guantanamo detention camp is a United States military prison located on the coast of Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, where many terror suspects have been kept indefinitely without charge amid reports of torture.
Former US presidents Barack Obama and Trump both had pledged to close the military prison, but failed to fulfill their promises in the face of stiff opposition from the Congress.
The authors of the book have interviewed some 180 people, including a number of White House senior staff members and government health leaders. The book will be released on June 29.
COVID ‘testing is killing me!’: Trump
The released excerpts of the book also reveal Trump's reaction to the testing crisis that bogged America’s initial response to the deadly virus.
“Testing is killing me!” Trump reportedly told then-Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar during a phone call on March 18.
“I’m going to lose the election because of testing! What idiot had the federal government do testing?” Trump exclaimed.
Trump had been under fire for publicly downplaying the threat of the pandemic when it broke out in the US in late February, and his handling of the COVID-19 crisis.
US media said Trump had received multiple heads-ups about the looming catastrophe as the coronavirus started to spread, but failed to mobilize for a major pandemic.
Trump rather spared no effort during that time to pin the blame on the Chinese officials for the virus outbreak, claiming that the pandemic had started from a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The allegation was categorically dismissed by Beijing.
The United States, the worst-hit country by the pandemic, has so far registered a record number of 34,406,059 confirmed cases and 617,166 deaths.