Donald Trump has publicly hinted at easing restrictions in place to stop the spread of coronavirus and re-opening the American economy, and a new report says he had privately raised the idea of an even more aggressive and controversial approach -- allowing the coronavirus to "wash over the country."
The Washington Post reported that Trump first raised the question at a closed-door meeting with experts in the White House Situation Room back in March, asking top expert Dr. Anthony Fauci why they can't just allow the virus to run its course in the United States. The report claimed that Fauci was "stunned" by Trump's question.
"Mr. President, many people would die," Fauci reportedly told Trump.
The report claimed that Trump "repeatedly" raised the same question in private White House meetings. He reportedly became fixated on the idea after the United Kingdom initially adopted a strategy of "mitigation," allowing the virus to spread across the country in the hopes that people there would develop herd immunity.
The country abruptly abandoned the strategy in March after a government-commissioned report from Imperial College of London found that doing so would result in hundreds of thousands of deaths, Business Insider reported. The same report has been cited as a reason that Trump changed his tone after spending weeks downplaying the severity of the virus.
Governors across the United States have put in place stringent restrictions in order to slow the spread of the virus, closing non-essential businesses, banning public gatherings and calling on people to remain in their homes for all but the most essential trips. Experts had warned that without these strict mitigation steps, between 1.1 and 1.2 million Americans would die as the virus spreads rapidly and overwhelms hospital systems.Trump has still hinted at re-opening the country since the United Kingdom abandoned its "mitigation" strategy and experts predicted that allowing the virus to spread would lead to a large number of deaths. He previously suggested that it could open up again by Easter, allowing people to attend church services together, but later abandoned the idea and extended federal lockdown guidelines through the month of April.
Medical experts have warned that re-opening the country too soon could be disastrous. As The Hill reported, these experts say that loosening restrictions too soon -- which some have suggested doing in the name of helping the economy -- would actually lead to an even worse economic impact.
The United States on Saturday surpassed Italy for the most coronavirus deaths in the world, crossing the 20,000-mark with more than 2,000 total deaths reported on Friday.