President Trump on Monday said that it was crucial to get the country’s economy up and running as soon as possible amid the coronavirus pandemic spreading across the nation — but he stopped short of predicting when that might be.
“At a certain point we have to get open. We have to get moving. we’re not going to let the cure be worse than the problem. At the end of the 15-day period, we’ll make a decision as to which way we want to go,” he said during the Coronavirus Task Force’s daily briefing, referring to the 15-day period of strict social distancing
“America will, again, and soon, be open for business. Very soon. A lot sooner than three or four months that somebody was suggesting. We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself,” he continued.
“This is a medical problem. We are not going to let it turn into a long-lasting financial problem.”
Trump even predicted that more people could die from suicide and despair than would perish from the virus if the economy were shut down for too long.
“There’ll be tremendous repercussions. There will be tremendous death from that. Probably more death from that than anything we’re talking about with respect to the virus,” he said.
But asked about the disclosure earlier Monday that for the first time 100 Americans had died from the virus in one day, the president said he wasn’t surprised.
“It’s going to be bad. Certainly this is going to be bad. We’re trying to make it so it is less, less bad. The numbers will increase with time then they will decrease,” he said.
He also took a shot at the doctors on the White House team.
If it were up to the doctors they’d say let’s shut down the entire world, because again you’re up to 150 countries” where the virus has been detected, he said.
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“You can’t do that to a country, especially the number one economy in the world by far.”
Trump also announced a crackdown on hoarding crucial medical supplies like masks and other protective gear by businesses looking to cash in on the pandemic.
“We have some people hoarding. We want to prevent price gouging, and critical health and medical resources are going to be protected in every form,” Trump said.
The Department of Health and Human services, he added, would identify items deemed crucial and authorities would go after anyone found hoarding them.
“If you are sitting on a warehouse with surgical masks, you will be hearing a knock on your door,” said Attorney General William Barr, making his first appearance at a task force briefing, adding that Justice would not target individuals or retailers looking to replenish stocks.
Dr. Deborah Birx, meanwhile, said that new data from Europe on mortality rates was encouraging.
“Ninety-nine percent of all the mortality coming out of Europe, in general, is over 50 and [with] pre-existing conditions,” Birx said, adding that the rate for others was therefore only about 1 percent.
And the president also vowed to protect Asian-Americans from discrimination after initially calling the illness the “Chinese virus.”
”It’s very important that we totally protect our Asian-American community in the United States and all around the world. They’re amazing people and the spreading of the virus is not their fault in any way, shape, or form. they’re working closely with us to get rid of it,” he said.