Pandemic historian to leaders: ‘Just tell the truth’

“Just tell the truth,” said Barry, who wrote “The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History” and has advised two U.S. presidents on pandemic preparedness.

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September 18, 2020 - 1:15 PM

Photo by NAID / TNS

John Barry’s advice to officials responding to COVID-19 starts simple.

“Just tell the truth,” said Barry, who wrote “The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History” and has advised two U.S. presidents on pandemic preparedness.

President Donald Trump admitted last week he downplayed the threat posed by the coronavirus in February to avoid a panic. He said in private it was deadly and then compared it to the flu in public. He has repeated untrue claims that the virus will disappear on its own, that 99% of cases are asymptomatic, and that it’s a hoax.

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