Trump Reportedly Considered Sending Covid-Infected American Tourists To Guantanamo


Former President Donald Trump early on in the Covid-19 pandemic floated the idea of sending infected American tourists to the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, according to an excerpt of an upcoming book which adds new detail to the behind-the-scenes chaos of the Trump administration’s controversial pandemic response.

Key Facts

“Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration’s Response to the Pandemic That Changed History,” a book from two Washington Post journalists, details a February 2020 meeting in which Trump shocked aides with the suggestion, an excerpt published in the newspaper Monday reveals.

As White House officials debated how to handle Americans infected with the virus abroad, Trump reportedly asked staff members assembled in the Situation Room whether Americans could be quarantined on the Caribbean base where the U.S. also holds terrorism suspects in the infamous Guantanamo Bay prison. 

“Don’t we have an island we own?” the president reportedly asked, eager to keep the U.S.’s numbers low, continuing: “What about Guantanamo?” 

The excerpt says aides were stunned, but Trump still brought up the idea a second time before it was quashed by staff members citing the poor optics of housing Americans near the prison. 

The book—which is based on interviews with roughly 180 people, including senior White House staffers and government health leaders—is set to be published June 29.

Representatives for Trump did not immediately respond to Forbes’ request for comment. 

Crucial Quote

“We import goods,” Trump reportedly said. “We are not going to import a virus.” 


In addition to the exchange about Guantanamo, the Washington Post-published excerpt of the book recounts some of Trump’s complaints about coronavirus testing. “Testing is killing me!” he reportedly exclaimed in a March phone call to then-Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, complaining: “I’m going to lose the election because of testing.” 

Key Background 

The Trump administration has been widely criticized for its response to the coronavirus pandemic, which included downplaying the virus’s severity and challenging public safety measures like mask wearing and social distancing. In a detailed report released after the election, Trump’s chief pollster concluded it was his handling of the pandemic that was the biggest contributor to his loss to Joe Biden. 

Further Reading 

“New book offers fresh details about chaos, conflicts inside Trump’s pandemic response” (The Washington Post)

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