President Donald Trump revealed on Tuesday that four of his personal friends have died of complications related to the coronavirus, the Washington Examiner reported.
The president said he has also offered condolences to several families after learning that they had lost loved ones to the viral pandemic.
“I know many stories”
The personal acknowledgment from the president came near the end of a White House event highlighting the impact of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The program was created as part of the recent CARES Act, and offers forgivable loans to small businesses so they can keep their employees on the payroll.
At the event Tuesday, a reporter asked Trump if he had spoken with families impacted by COVID-19, referencing the president’s previous statements about a close friend, New York real-estate developer Stanley Chera, who had died after testing positive for the virus.
“Well, I have — I have many people,” Trump said, according to a White House transcript. “I know many stories. I’ve spoken to three, maybe, I guess, four families unrelated to me.”
Characterizing it as “a bad death” that “grips onto some people,” Trump noted that Chera was not his only acquaintance to have died from the coronavirus.
“I lost a very good friend,” Trump said Tuesday, according to the transcript. “I also lost three other friends — two of whom I didn’t know as well, but they were friends and people I did business with, and probably almost everybody in the room did.”
“Sort of a legend”
Late last month, Trump first addressed a personal link to the pandemic, mentioning in one press briefing that he “had a friend who went to a hospital the other day” and experienced a rapid decline in health due to the coronavirus, the Washington Examiner reported.
“And he went to the hospital, and a day later, he’s in a coma,” Trump said, according to a separate transcript from the White House. “The speed and the viciousness, especially if it gets the right person, it’s horrible. It’s really horrible.”
About two weeks later, as Trump was preparing to exit another briefing, he was asked about reports of Chera’s death.
“Stanley Chera is a friend of mine for a long time,” the president said then. “He’s a great real estate person — passed away. Was a great real estate person. Great. Great. Sort of a legend in New York real estate.”
Describing his late friend as a “great man” and “great philanthropist,” Trump added solemnly that Chera “went to the hospital and he never came out.”
Some of President Trump’s critics have accused him of failing to take the pandemic seriously or show sufficient empathy toward those who have suffered because of it. He continues to make it clear, however, that he has lost close friends to the virus and understands the pain that so many of his fellow Americans are experiencing.