President Trump was confronted Thursday by his longtime friend Geraldo Rivera about using the term “China Virus” to refer to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
“I have some Asian friends who say, you know, that it’s not very polite. That they worry that it has a racial overtone,” Mr. Rivera told Mr. Trump during a radio interview.
“No, I tell you, I do, too,” Mr. Trump interjected. “We have great Asian support, and they understand exactly what it is that we’re doing and saying, and they understand how China’s hurt our country, very much.”
The first cases of COVID-19 were reported late last year in Wuhan, China, and millions of people across more than 180 countries have contracted the disease in the months since.
Mr. Trump has repeatedly referred to COVID-19 in the interim by terms such as the “China Virus,” “Chinese Virus” and “kung flu,” despite critics rejecting them as racist.
The World Health Organization named COVID-19 in accordance with guidelines stating that, in order to avoid stigmatizing, diseases should “not refer to a geographical location.”
Mr. Trump, on his part, has previously reasoned that calling the disease by names such as the “China Virus” is not racist “because it comes from China.”
His latest comments occurred in an interview aired during Mr. Rivera’s morning program on WTAM and first reported by the website Mediaite.
“We’ve been ripped off by China for years, they’ve been taking money out and rebuilding their country, and our presidents were either naive or stupid to allow this to happen,” Mr. Trump said during the segment. “But we’ve been giving China from $200 billion to $575 billion a year for many, many years.”
Asked by Mr. Rivera if he believes China “stole our vaccine,” Mr. Trump replied: “I wouldn’t be surprised. I mean, I can’t say that with certainty, but it’s possible.”
There is currently no cure or vaccine for COVID-19, however, which has killed more than 18.8 million people worldwide since the outbreak first erupted. The current global population is approximately 7.8 billion.
Mr. Rivera, 77, has hosted “Geraldo in Cleveland” on WTAM since 2018. He previously said he has been “friends of sorts” with Mr. Trump since 1976 and has called him a “hangout buddy.”