At the conclusion of President Trump 's lengthy appearance at the briefing for the White House Coronavirus Task Force Monday, the president showed a softer side in speaking about the passing of his friend Stanley Chera, who died Saturday after being infected with the coronavirus.
“To me,'" he said, "it is a very sad thing.”
Trump called Chera "a friend of mine for a long time" and praised him as "a great real estate person, great, great, sort of a legend in New York real estate."
Trump first spoke about a "friend" with the disease on March 29, without identifying him spoke of the “viciousness” of the disease. Monday, Trump said, "Stanley went to the hospital and he never came out."
Trump had left the impression that having personally known someone who became sick with COVID-19, the disease the virus causes, had influenced his decisions about how to handle the outbreak.
But asked at a later briefing whether his friend's case had marked a turning point in his thinking, Trump said it had not because he had been seeing the statistics and the rising case numbers.
“He's sort of central casting for what we're talking about, and it hit him very hard,” Trump said of Chera on April 1. “I've never seen anything like it.”
A longtime friend and donor to Trump, Chera's death Saturday was first reported by The Real Deal, which covers the New York real estate industry. The publication cited unidentified sources who have worked with Crown Acquisitions, the firm Chera founded and ran. Chera was in his late 70s.
Trump called out his friend at a campaign rally in 2019 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, touting Chera as “one of the biggest builders and real estate people in the world.”
“He’s a great guy, and he’s been with me from the beginning,” Trump said.
At Monday's briefing, Trump said Chera "was so excited when his friend from New York became the president of the United States .... he was like a young boy he was so excited."
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But it can cause more severe illness in some people, such as Chera, older adults or people with existing health conditions. The vast majority of people recover.
Trump has been tested at least twice for the virus, with negative results each time, the White House said.