Trump says toughest weeks ahead as coronavirus spreads

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WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump returned to the idea of ​​opening the country’s economy as soon as possible on Saturday, even as he said the United States was heading for what could be its weeks ahead. more difficult as a coronavirus. cases are swelling nationwide.

“Unfortunately there will be many deaths. There will be death, “said Trump in a grim start to his daily pandemic briefing.

Vice President Mike Pence, coordinator of the virus task force, Dr. Deborah Birx, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United States’ leading infectious disease specialist, have joined Trump. Everyone stood far apart from each other on the small stage.

The president initially suggested that the country could reopen by Easter, but backed down when he saw projections of a dizzying record, even though restrictive measures remain in place. But just days after extending strict national guidelines until the end of April, bringing down historic unemployment levels and stalling economically, he was chatting with professional sports league leaders about filling up arenas.

“This country was not designed to be closed,” he said. “The remedy cannot be worse than the problem. “

The number of people infected in the United States has exceeded 30,000, the death toll has exceeded 8,100; more than 3,500 of these deaths occurred in New York State.

Much of the country has been ordered to stay at home, including professional sports leagues which were among the first to respond to the pandemic.

Trump spoke with the commissioners of the country’s sports leagues, telling them that he hoped to get people back into the seats as soon as possible.

“I want the fans to come back to the arenas,” he said. “Whenever we are ready, as soon as possible. “

The virus has decimated the world of sport with the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League suspending their seasons indefinitely and Major League Baseball postponing the start of its season. The NCAA basketball tournament has also been canceled; just like spring sports in college.

Top sport leaders participated in the call, including Roger Goodell of the National Football League and Adam Silver of the NBA.

But health officials have given hope that social distance measures are working. Fauci said he saw social distancing efforts as he went out for a walk in Washington, D.C., and saw people waiting six feet apart to get out of the restaurant.

“As sober and difficult as it may be, what we do makes a difference,” said Fauci.

Trump has suggested that some states are asking for more medical supplies than they really need. He said the goal was to be several days ahead of each state’s critical medical needs.

“Fears of the shortage have led to an increase in demand,” he said.

Louisiana officials said New Orleans was about to run out of fans next week. Governor Andrew Cuomo, DN.Y., whose state is at the epicenter of the national pandemic with more than 113,700 cases confirmed on Saturday morning, pleaded for ventilators for days and lambasted what he said was a insufficient federal government assistance. New York is about to receive more than 1,100 fans from China and Oregon.

Trump continued to tout hydroxychloroquine, a long-used drug to treat malaria, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, on Saturday, after very small preliminary studies suggesting it may help prevent coronavirus from entering cells and maybe help patients clear the virus sooner. But the drug has major potential side effects, especially for the heart, and large studies are underway to see if it is safe and effective in treating COVID-19.

Trump has suggested that he may consider starting to take the drug, even if he has not been diagnosed. Some studies test whether hydroxychloroquine can help prevent infections in healthcare workers, but none have suggested that others, like the president, take it to prevent infection.

Before the briefing, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Criticized Trump’s decision to appoint “one of his own lawyers,” as Inspector General overseeing federal assistance during the recovery coronavirus.

Pelosi said the watchdog was monitoring “this historic rescue plan for workers and families must be independent of politics”.

Trump has appointed Brian Miller to the Treasury Department surveillance post. He is currently the President’s Special Assistant and Deputy Senior Advisor to the White House.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is overseeing the government’s plan to inject $ 2.2 trillion into the US economy over the next few weeks to try to cushion the downfall. The aid includes $ 349 billion in small business loans and a $ 500 billion business rescue fund.

Legislation signed by Trump last week created the position of Special Inspector General as well as a group appointed by Congress to monitor how aid is deployed.

Pelosi said that Trump ignored the provisions of the law that would hold the administration accountable. She said a new House committee on the response to the virus would work to ensure that “taxpayers’ money is used wisely and effectively to help workers and not be exploited by price abusers and fraudsters “

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, which go away within two to three weeks. For some, especially the elderly and people with existing health conditions, this can cause more serious illnesses, including pneumonia and death.

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