Donald Trump spoke with reporters during a coronavirus briefing and stated he wanted to get the economy back up and running sooner rather than later. He asserted that doing so could ultimately save more lives than protective measures like social distancing would.
“There will be tremendous death,” he said. “Probably more death from that than anything that we’re talking about with respect to the virus.”
When asked by CNN reporter Kaitlin Collins if government experts agreed with the idea of ending social distancing measures, he suggested that his policy might not line up with their recommendations, but that it was necessary to help Americans, HuffPost reports.
“If it were up to the doctors, they may say, ‘Let’s keep it shut down ― let’s shut down the entire world,'” he said. “You can’t do that with a country ― especially the No. 1 economy anywhere in the world, by far … you can’t do that. It causes bigger problems than the original.”
When pushed, he said that doctors have “not endorsed” his idea, but he thinks “they’re OK with it.”
When asked during the briefing if it was a good idea to open up business when the death rate from COVID-19 was accelerating and the World Health Organization warned that the U.S. is poised to become the epicenter of the pandemic, Trump suggested people were taking their own lives as a result of the depressed economy.
“You have suicides over things like this, when you have terrible economies.”
Despite the death toll — which has dramatically increased in the United States in recent days — Trump argued that it would be better for the country if the economy were back up and running. In recent days, the stock market has continued to crater, though it rallied on Tuesday after reports emerged that a stimulus package was close to being passed by Congress.
“It’s bad, and obviously the numbers are going to increase with time, and they’re going to start to decrease, and we’re going to be opening our country up for business because our country was meant to be open,” he said.
Trump also argued for opening businesses back up by comparing coronavirus deaths to those that occur as a result of automobile accidents. He said that — even though the country sees thousands of deaths from automobile accidents every year — there is no conversation about putting an end to driving. In the same way, he believes the coronavirus should be treated more like the flu, which is poised to cause “50,000 or more deaths” this year.
“So we have to do things to get our country open,” he concluded.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Trump’s leading expert on infectious diseases and a member of the coronavirus task force led by Vice President Mike Pence, was notably absent from the press conference, leading some people to speculate that the president and the doctor were butting heads over the best way to address the pandemic.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.