WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR/AP) — President Donald Trump said Monday that he wants to reopen the country for business in weeks, not months, and he claimed, without evidence, that continued closures could result in more deaths than the coronavirus pandemic.
“We can’t have the cure be worse than the problem,” Trump told reporters at a press briefing, echoing a midnight Sunday tweet. “We have to open our country because that causes problems that, in my opinion, could be far bigger problems.”
Trump acknowledged there were trade-offs, “there’s no question about that,” but claimed that, if closures stretch on for months, there would be “probably more death from that than anything that we’re talking about with respect to the virus.”
The comments were further evidence that Trump has grown impatient with the pandemic, even before it has reached its expected peak. In recent days, tensions have been rising between those who argue the country needs to get back up and running to prevent a deep economic depression, and medical experts who warn that, unless more extreme action is taken, the human cost will be catastrophic.
As of Monday in the United States, more than 400 people have died, with over 41,000 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus.
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams warned, “I want America to understand — this week, it’s going to get bad.”
During Sunday evening’s briefing, the president said he ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to ship mobile hospital centers to the hardest-hit states of Washington, California and New York.
Another attempt to advance the aid bill on Capitol Hill failed in a Monday afternoon vote. The plan would send checks to U.S. households and offer support for small businesses and the hard-hit travel industry, among other things, but Democrats say it too heavily favors corporations at the expense of public health and workers.
The full White House briefing can be viewed below.
The Associated Press and CNN contributed to this report.