President Donald Trump on Wednesday said the American people have to be ‘warriors’ as he tried to justify his push to reopen the economy and gain popular support for it in the teeth of polls suggesting most think it is too soon.
Asked if Americans will have to accept the idea that by reopening there will likely be more deaths, Trump told reporters: ‘You have to be warriors, we can’t keep our country closed down for years and we have to do something. Hopefully that won’t be the case, but it could very well be the case.’
And he admitted he backed down on disbanding the White House Coronavirus Task Force after the outcry raised when the White House announced its closure.
He said he thought it could be closed sooner and hadn’t realized how popular it was with the American people as the country battles the coronavirus pandemic.
‘I thought we could wind it down sooner. But I had no idea how popular the task force is until actually yesterday when I started talking about winding down,’ Trump told reporters in the Oval Office during an event with nurses. ‘I knew it myself, and it is appreciated by the public.’
Trump said the pandemic was worse than some of biggest attacks in American history: the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II and the September 11th terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York.
‘We went through the worst attack we’ve ever had in our country. This is really the worst attack we’ve ever had. This is worse than Pearl Harbor. This is worse than the World Trade Center. There’s never been an attack like this,’ he said.
There were 2,403 people killed in the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and 2,996 died in the September 11th attacks. Deaths from the coronavirus have been more than 74,000.
President Donald Trump admitted he backed down on disbanding the White House Coronavirus Task Force after the outcry raised when the White House announced its closure
President Trump called the coronavirus pandemic worse than the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor
President Trump also called the pandemic worse than the September 11th terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York
President Trump also said he would be adding two or three members to the task force by next week, saying there was a ‘whole list of people’ who want to be on it. He said the White House would announce names by Monday.
‘We have a whole list of people that want to be on and we have a whole list of people that we want, and nobody — I will say this. Nobody has ever turned me down to be on the task force. No one has turned me down for anything. And everybody wants to be on everything we do. It’s very important we will be announcing I would say by Monday, I would say two or three more members of the task force,’ Trump said.
The president announced earlier in the day the task force would continue after concerns were raised following an announcement it would be disbanded.
Trump, in a long Twitter thread, praised the task force’s work and cited its successes in combating the coronavirus. He noted it would now ‘continue on indefinitely with its focus on SAFETY & OPENING UP OUR COUNTRY AGAIN.’
His announcement came less than 24 hours after Vice President Mike Pence told reporters the group was winding down.
Questions were raised about why the White House was disbanding the group when infections in the U.S. have reached more than 1.2million and more than 74,000 people have died. And President Trump frequently reacts after news coverage of his decisions.
President Trump with members of the coronavirus task force: Vice President Mike Pence, Admiral Brett Giroir, Dr. Anthony Fauci, CMS administrator Seema Verma, Dr. Deborah Birx, Surgeon General Jerome Adams, and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar
More than 70,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus
Trump originally defended the decision but changed his mind Wednesday, announcing its continuation and new focus as he continues his push to get the country reopened. The president also warned some officials could be added or subtracted to the group and noted it would also focus on efforts to make a vaccine.
‘The White House CoronaVirus Task Force, headed by Vice President Mike Pence, has done a fantastic job of bringing together vast highly complex resources that have set a high standard for others to follow in the future,’ Trump wrote on Twitter.
‘Ventilators, which were few & in bad shape, are now being produced in the thousands, and we have many to spare. We are helping other countries which are desperate for them. Likewise, after having been left little, we are now doing more testing than all other countries combined, and with superior tests. Face masks & shields gloves, gowns etc. are now plentiful,’ he added.
‘The last four Governors teleconference calls have been conclusively strong. Because of this success, the Task Force will continue on indefinitely with its focus on SAFETY & OPENING UP OUR COUNTRY AGAIN. We may add or subtract people to it, as appropriate. The Task Force will also be very focused on Vaccines & Therapeutics. Thank you!,’ he concluded.
His announcement comes amid a report that officials warned the number of deaths ‘will be high’ as the country reopens.
Trump has acknowledged there would be ‘more death’ due to the coronavirus pandemic, as states begin the process of allowing businesses to reopen.
‘It’s possible there will be some because you won’t be locked into an apartment or a house or whatever it is,’ the president told ABC News on Tuesday. ‘But at the same time, we’re going to practice social distancing, we’re going to be washing hands, we’re going to be doing a lot of the things that we’ve learned to do over the last period of time.’
Trump said the reality is, ‘We can’t sit in the house for the next three years.’
‘There’ll be more death, than the virus will pass, with or without a vaccine,’ he noted.
Additionally administration officials have privately noted a lack of personal protective equipment despite Trump’s claims the supply chain has been filled
But his administration’s health and emergency management officials privately warned that states were still experiencing shortages of masks, gowns and other protective medical gear, according to a recording of an interagency conference call between FEMA and Health and Human Services officials, obtained by Politico.
‘The numbers of deaths definitely will be high,’ Daniel Jernigan, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s influenza division, said at the start of a May 1 conference call.
Another official warned if states continue to lift their social distancing restrictions, hospitals across the nation would see a surge in cases, which could result in another ventilator shortage.
Health officials had previously warned that reopening the country too quickly could result in a second wave of the virus.
‘If, at the end of stay-at-home orders, you were to lift everything and go back to normal business, and not have any community mitigation, you would expect to see in the second week in May we begin to increase again in ventilator uses,’ the official said. ‘Which means cases increase, and by early June, we surpass the number of ventilators we currently have.’
Another official warned that stay-at-home orders may have to return if the rate of infection increases as states reopen.
‘As we lift mitigation, it’s going to be critical to monitor local transmission, public health capacity and health system capacity over time,’ the official said ‘and if needed, reinitiate mitigation in the coming weeks.’
Twenty three states have some a partial reopening in progress with six more on track to start reopening soon.
Politico revealed that a series of conference calls between health and emergency management officials painted a different story of the coronavirus calls than the public picture President Trump touted.
In the calls, officials discussed their struggle to keep pace with a flood of requests from governors for more medical equipment.
‘Our main PPE shortfalls continue to be along the lines of gloves and gowns,’ one official from region four – which includes much of the Southeast United States – said on the May 1 call. ‘I know everyone is working hard on that.’
President Trump defended his decision to disband his coronavirus task force before he rescinded the order, he’s seen with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Vice President Mike Pence, Dr. Deborah Birx and Admiral Brett Giroir at an April White House briefing
Trump, however, has argued the U.S. has conquered its supply problem.
‘We have more ventilators now than anybody in the world,’ he said Tuesday during a visit to a Honeywell factory in Phoenix, Arizona, that converted to making N95 masks to help with the coronavirus.
‘Through FEMA, HHS, and our private sector partners, we’re equipping our frontline medical workers with more than 70 million N95 respirators, 112 million surgical masks, 7 million face shields, 18 million gowns, and nearly 1 billion gloves,’ Trump touted.
President Trump was surrounded by workers wearing masks during the tour
President Donald Trump ignored signs requiring a mask be worn when he toured a mask factory in Arizona and only wore safety googles on his eyes
On his first major trip out of the White House Tuesday in almost two months, Trump told Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey he would suffer ‘fires’ – meaning future coronavirus outbreaks, but said the Republican would handle it.
‘You could probably have fires here, Doug. You’ll put them out. You’re going to put them out. You’ll put them out fast. We are bringing our country back,’ Trump said.
The president was speaking as he toured a Honeywell factory In Phoenix making N95 masks – but he and his entourage ignored a sign saying masks had to be worn.
He also issued another optimistic economic prediction – but this time put the action in the fourth quarter, rather than a third quarter this summer which he predicted would see a boom.
‘You’re going to have a third quarter where you’re going to have transition. You’ll have a big, beautiful hopefully a very good transition, a very successful transition back into the real world,’ Trump said of the July-September period.
‘And then you’re going to have a fourth quarter that I think is going to do very well. And then I think next year I think we’re going to have one of the best years we’ve ever had,’ Trump predicted.
Trump appeared to indicate his position on reopening – which many experts say must be proceeded by massive testing and other health measures – would involve suffering.
‘I’m not saying anything is perfect. And yes, will some people be affected? Yes. Will some people be affected badly? Yes. But we have to get our country open, and we have to get it open soon.’ .
White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx (L) and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar attend an announcement that the Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency approval for the antiviral drug remdesivir in the Oval Office at the White House May 01, 2020 in Washington, DC. Azar previously ran the task force before Pence was put in charge
Trump has scaled back his own press briefings with the task force.
In prior weeks, the events would sometimes expose apparent rifts between the president and the nation’s top experts. Reporters asked Dr. Anthony Fauci if he agreed with Trump’s touting of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment. And the president himself quizzed coronavirus coordinator Dr. Debbie Birx on the idea of injecting disinfectants into coronavirus patients.
With more and more movement toward reopening, Trump also on Tuesday mischaracterized two new reports that show an increased number of deaths from the coronavirus, a troubling sign of what may come as he pushes the country to reopen.
‘It’s a report with no mitigation,’ the president said at the White House of two new studies – based on government modeling – that show the daily virus death toll will hit 3,000 by June and another projects that over 134,000 people will die.
‘We’re doing a lot of mitigation,’ Trump said. ‘But that report is a no-mitigation report, and we are mitigating.’
The reports, however, do factor in mitigating along with changes that will come as states slowly start to reopen. Additionally, there is less mitigation taking place in the United States as businesses start to reopen, parks and beaches start to see crowds, and people begin to return to their normal routines.
Trump told reporters at the White House Tuesday: ‘We did everything right. But now it’s time to go back to work.’
A revised coronavirus model has doubled its predicted US death toll to nearly 135,000 by August as social-distancing measures are increasingly relaxed across the country
A newly revised coronavirus model has doubled its predicted US death toll to nearly 135,000 by August as social-distancing measures for quelling the pandemic are increasingly relaxed across the country.
Researchers say the ominous new forecast from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation reflect ‘rising mobility in most US states’ with an easing of business closures and stay-at-home orders expected in 31 states by May 11.
The projections reinforced warnings from public health experts that a rising clamor to lift restrictions on commerce and social activities – in hopes of healing a ravaged economy – could exact a staggering cost in terms of human lives.
So far in the US, the number of infections has increased to more than 1.2 million and more than 74,000 Americans have died from COVID-19.
The latest IHME forecast predicts the number of US deaths from COVID-19 will run from as few as 95,092 to as many as 242,890 by August 4 – with 134,475 lives lost being the most likely middle ground.
By comparison, the previous revision put the middle-case figure at 72,400 deaths, within a range between 59,300 and 114,200 fatalities.
The upward spike reflects increasing human interactions as more states begin to ease social-distancing requirements.