In the early months of the pandemic last year, then-President Trump wanted to send Americans infected with COVID-19 to the same place his Republican predecessor sent enemy combatants, according to a new book from two Washington Post journalists. In Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration's Response to the Pandemic That Changed History, Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damien Paletta write that Trump, wanting to keep US infection statistics low in February 2020, said infected US tourists from a cruise ship should be sent to Guantanamo Bay. The book says Trump asked, "Don't we have an island that we own? How about Guantanamo?" He reportedly added: "We import goods. We are not going to import a virus."
The authors say the proposal was rejected after shocked aides at the White House Situation Room meeting pushed back against it, the Guardian reports. Abutaleb and Paletta say the book is based on more than 180 interviews, including conversations with senior White House staff members and health officials. The Post, which was provided with an advance copy, says the book depicts Trump as "ineffectual and out of touch," with feuds among his advisers and the president's insistence on following his hunches leading to a chaotic federal response to the pandemic. In mid-March last year, the authors write, Trump shouted at then-HHS Secretary Alex Azar that testing was "killing" him in the polls and asked, "What idiot had the federal government do testing?" According to the authors, Azar responded, "Uh, do you mean Jared?" (Read more coronavirus stories.)