President TrumpDonald John TrumpPelosi eyes end of April to bring a fourth coronavirus relief bill to the floor NBA to contribute 1 million surgical masks to NY essential workers Private equity firm with ties to Kushner asks Trump administration to relax rules on loan program: report MORE on Saturday urged the American public to brace for a difficult week ahead as the novel coronavirus spreads domestically, saying there would be “a lot of death.”
“This will be probably the toughest week,” Trump told reporters at a White House press briefing on COVID-19 Saturday afternoon.
“There will be a lot of death, unfortunately, but a lot less death if this was not done,” Trump continued, referencing the steps the federal government has taken to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus.
Earlier in the week, the White House’s coronavirus task force signaled a grim estimation that anywhere from 100,000 to 240,000 people in the U.S. could die from the disease even if the recommended social distancing guidelines are followed.
So far, more than 8,000 people in the country have died from the virus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has more confirmed cases of COVID-19 than any other country in the world, with more than 300,000 people infected.
New York City is the epicenter of the virus in the country, and the president said Saturday that around 1,000 additional military medical personnel will be sent to the state.
The Empire State has nearly 114,000 confirmed cases, with 63,000 of those cases coming from New York City. Public health officials have also warned of emerging hot spots in areas including New Orleans and Chicago.
Trump on Saturday continued to refer to the battle against the coronavirus as a “war,” and insisted that American citizens must follow the social distancing guidelines recommended by his administration while reiterating that the country could not remained closed down forever.
“We have to get back to work,” Trump said. “We don’t want to be doing this for months and months and months.”
The president sought to project confidence of the federal government’s ability to supply states with needed medical equipment to treat patients who have contracted the virus, amid growing concerns of shortages of ventilators, masks and other critical supplies.
Trump last Sunday extended White House guidelines recommending Americans nationwide to avoid restaurants and bars, minimize in-person gatherings and bypass non-essential travel until the end of April in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The guidelines were initially supposed to expire at the start of this week, and Trump had sent signals that he would try to relax them in certain areas of the country that are not seeing significant community spread of COVID-19 in order to help boost the U.S. economy.
Most states have their own restrictions in place, with many issuing stay-at-home orders.
Dr. Anthony FauciAnthony FauciSunday shows preview: As coronavirus spreads in the U.S., officials from each sector of public life weigh in Trump warns ‘there will be a lot of death’ in the coming week How deadly is the coronavirus? MORE, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the coronavirus task force, told reporters Saturday that there were some signs that the guidelines were working and said he was confident that the curve of infection would begin to “turn around” if Americans adhered to them.
“The one thing I am confident in so let’s take this to the bank – that mitigation works,” Fauci said.
Speaking shortly after Fauci, Trump endorsed the mitigation steps but said officials would eventually face a “big decision” on reopening, repeating a line he has used previously that the “cure cannot be worse than the problem.”
The remarks signaled that Trump may choose to lift the guidelines at the end of the month as he seeks to revive the U.S. economy amid sharp job losses due to the coronavirus.
“Mitigation does work, but again we’re not going to destroy our country. We have to get back. Because you know, at a certain point, you lose more people this way through all of the problems caused than you will with what we’re doing right now,” Trump told reporters.
“We went this extra period of time but I said it from the beginning the cure cannot be worse than the problem itself,” he continued. “At a certain point some hard decisions are going to have to be made.”
Updated 7:05 p.m.