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Facebook and Twitter censor Trump post comparing COVID-19 to the flu

Social media outlets cite rules violations

Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook on Tuesday removed a post from President Donald Trump comparing COVID-19 to the flu for violating its rules on coronavirus misinformation.

A spokesperson for Facebook confirmed to CNN that the company removed the president's post.

Trump's message, which asks if the United States will "close down our Country" for flu season, was also given a warning label on Twitter for "spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19."

"Flu season is coming up! Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu. Are we going to close down our Country?" Trump wrote.

"No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with COVID, in most populations far less lethal!!!"

This year, more than 209,000 Americans have died of COVID-19. According to estimates from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, since 2010 between 12,000 and 61,000 people have died from the flu annually.

According to The Hill, the last time U.S. flu deaths were estimated at 100,000 was in 1968.

While COVID-19 is similar to the flu, there are important differences.

"Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses," the CDC notes on a webpage explaining the differences between the two viruses. "COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses."

"Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. Flu and COVID-19 share many characteristics, but there are some key differences between the two."

The viruses share many of the same symptoms, including fever/chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle pain or body aches, headache, and occasionally vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults). In addition to these symptoms, COVID-19 may cause the loss of taste or smell.

In general, individuals with COVID-19 take a few days longer for symptoms to appear after infection, but this can vary from case to case. COVID-19 is also more contagious than the flu.

"While COVID-19 and flu viruses are thought to spread in similar ways, COVID-19 is more contagious among certain populations and age groups than flu," the CDC says. "Also, COVID-19 has been observed to have more superspreading events than flu. This means the virus that causes COVID-19 can quickly and easily spread to a lot of people and result in continuous spreading among people as time progresses."

COVID-19 is thought to be more deadly than the flu, according to Dr. Lisa Lockerd Maragakis, writing for Johns Hopkins Medicine.

"Since this disease is caused by a new virus, the vast majority of people do not yet have immunity to it, and a vaccine may be many months away. Doctors and scientists are working to estimate the mortality rate of COVID-19, but at present, it is thought to be substantially higher (possibly 10 times or more) than that of most strains of the flu," Lockerd Maragakis writes.

Additionally, while there is a vaccine and proven treatments for the flu, there is no vaccine for COVID-19 and medical professionals are still conducting research to find effective treatments for the virus.

President Trump spent the weekend at Walter Reed National Medical Center after disclosing last Friday that he tested positive for coronavirus. The president reportedly experienced mild symptoms, recording a fever and experiencing fatigue.

Trump was treated with Remedsivir, an anti-viral drug, the steroid dexamethasone, as well as zinc, vitamin D, melatonin, and aspirin during his hospitalization.

He was discharged from the hospital Monday. In a video message posted after he was discharged, Trump told Americans, "Don't let [the virus] dominate you. Don't be afraid of it. You're gonna beat it. We have the best medical equipment, we have the best medicines. All developed recently."

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