WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 04: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a press briefing with members of … [+]
Topline: A few days after saying the United States would have “a very tough two weeks” as the White House predicted up to 240,000 deaths from the COVID-19 coronavirus even with full mitigation policies, President Trump was back to his message that the country needs to open as soon as possible, saying “We don’t want to be doing this for months and months and months.”
- Trump echoed the statements he made regarding the administration’s “aspirational” goal of opening the country by Easter before pushing that to April 30, further saying “We’re paying people to stay home. Think of it, we’re paying people not to go to work. How about that? How does that play? And they want to go to work by the way. They don’t want money.”
- Earlier in the day, Trump held a phone conference with commissioners of major sports leagues like the NBA’s Adam Silver and the NFL’s Roger Goodell, saying “I want fans back in the arenas,” though California Governor Gavin Newsom in reaction said he wasn’t anticipating packed stadiums by August or September.
- Trump was asked why nine Republican-led states have refused stay-at-home orders, as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, further reemphasized the effectiveness of such policies on Saturday. He stuck to his small government vision: “It depends on the individual state…they’re doing very well.”
- When prompted with case numbers for holdout states like South Carolina (1,917 confirmed) and Utah (1,432), Trump said the numbers are relatively small, though they have the 24th and 28th most cases in the country respectively. He added they don’t need to get out in front of the outbreak despite his assertion that New York, one of the first few states to put in place a state-at-home order, got to a “late start.”
- While Trump said “We think we have a good amount [of ventilators]…they’re ready to move to any hot spot,” he continued to criticize Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, the global epicenter of the pandemic, for his request for ventilators, saying “They don’t need that many” and that the federal government is saving them for a surge. On April 2, Cuomo said the state only has six days left of ventilators in its stockpile.
- Dr. Fauci on Friday continued to warn against thinking the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine—which received emergency authorization by the Food and Drug Administration despite inconclusive clinical proof of its efficacy against the coronavirus—was a “knockout drug.”
- Despite no known cure for the coronavirus, Trump continued to contradict the country’s top authority of infectious diseases Saturday, saying hydroxychloroquine “could be a game changer” given the mortality rates of people on ventilators and to “try it if you’d like,” though such rhetoric has led to shortages of the drug.
Tangent: In his comments about hydroxychloroquine, Trump suggested people with the autoimmune disease lupus that take the medicine regularly were at less risk of the coronavirus, a claim that was soon shot down by Fauci. People with lupus are actually more vulnerable to diseases like the coronavirus, according to the Lupus Foundation of America.
Crucial Quote: Again, Trump pointed to America’s boom-then-bust economy under his administration as the reason to reopen the country, but on Friday, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “If countries rush to lift restrictions too quickly, the virus could resurge and the economic impact could be even more severe and prolonged.”
Key Background: The U.S. crossed 300,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Saturday, more than Italy and Spain’s cases combined. The death toll has reached 8,175, with 38% of the deaths occurring in New York state.