- President Donald Trump insisted that the country must "go back to work" on April 12 during a "virtual city hall" in Fox News on Tuesday afternoon.
- The President has repeatedly claimed that the response to the economic damage will be worse than the loss of life caused by the virus, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
- "If we allow this to happen, more people will die. People will have to work again," Trump said. "We cannot lose the advantage we have."
- The president also made a ruthless claim that Americans can exercise appropriate social distancing at work if they stop shaking hands and wash their hands more often.
- Scientists and public health experts agree that millions of Americans should stay at home as businesses and schools close to curb the spread of the highly infectious virus, which is estimated to be ten times more deadly than seasonal flu.
- The World Health Organization warned on Tuesday that the US could soon become the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.
- You can find more stories on the Business Insider homepage.
President Donald Trump made a number of unsubstantiated allegations of the corona virus threat and announced his intention to retire the federal guidelines on social distance by April 12 during a "virtual city hall" on Tuesday in Fox News.
Trump repeatedly downplayed the pandemic threat to public health, insisting, without evidence, that more Americans will die if the country remains locked than if the economy reopens and the virus spreads.
"If we allow this to happen, more people will die. People will have to work again," Trump said. "We cannot lose the advantage we have."
Trump once claimed, without evidence, that more Americans would die from suicide if the country remained locked than from "the flu".
"You will lose a number of people to the flu, but you will lose more people if you put a country into a massive recession or depression," he said. "They'll commit thousands of suicides. They'll let all sorts of things happen."
– Salvador Hernandez (@SalHernandez) March 24, 2020
The president also insisted that the economic damage from responding to the virus would be more damaging than the loss of life – an allegation that even some of his most vocal supporters have condemned.
"We had the best economy in our country's history and then we should suddenly shut it down," Trump said, adding the response to the pandemic. "It was very painful for our country and very destabilizing for our country and we have to work again."
Scientists and public health experts agree that millions of Americans should stay home when businesses and schools close to curb the spread of the highly infectious virus. On March 16, the federal government issued guidelines recommending that Americans avoid, among other things, gatherings of more than 10 people, teach their children at home, and avoid travel.
Trump argued on Tuesday that he only agreed to these measures – recommended by the nation's infectious disease experts – to avoid criticism and political clashes.
"If I hadn't done it, we would have been incredibly criticized for not doing it," he said. "Somehow it became known that this is what we should do."
The president also claimed that Americans can exercise appropriate social distancing at work if they stop shaking hands and wash their hands more often.
"We have to open this country," said Trump. "We can distance ourselves socially and go to work, and you have to work a little harder, and you can clean your hands five times more than you are used to. You no longer have to shake hands with people."
And he compared the coronavirus threat to the flu and car accidents inaccurately. The country's leading infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, has repeatedly claimed that it is the coronavirus 10 times more deadly than the flu.
"We lose thousands and thousands of people to the flu every year, we never shut down the country," Trump said. "We lose a lot more than that in car accidents, we don't call automobile companies and say we shouldn't build cars anymore."
– Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 24, 2020
The World Health Organization warned on Tuesday that the US could soon become the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris said at a press conference in Geneva on Tuesday that, according to Reuters, there has been "a very large acceleration" in US cases in recent days.
Harris said that in the past 24 hours, 85% of all newly reported coronavirus cases had occurred in the United States and Europe, 40% in the United States.
Trump also condemned New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for asking the federal government for help to pile up the thousands of ventilators needed for what is likely to be the largest increase in critically ill coronavirus patients in the country by far.
Cuomo asked Trump on Tuesday to hand over the national supply of 20,000 ventilators to New York State, which faces a huge shortage of critical machinery as the number of cases increases. The governor said experts predict that the state will see the culmination of its cases in about 14 to 21 days, and urged the president to introduce the defense production law to force private companies to produce critical medical devices to start.
The president instead accused Cuomo of not buying 16,000 ventilators in 2015 to prepare for a pandemic – a deal the governor had supposedly offered a few years ago.
"He had the chance to buy 16,000 ventilators at a very low price in 2015 and he declined," Trump said. "I don't blame him or anything else, but he shouldn't be talking about us. He should buy his own fans."
On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence had insisted that the federal government "be in the process of literally sending out the entire national pool of fans." According to Cuomo, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had made only 400 of its machines available to the state hours earlier.
"You want a pat on the back to send 400 ventilators? What do we do with 400 ventilators when we need 30,000 ventilators?" said the governor. "You miss the scale of the problem."
– Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 24, 2020
Adam Bienkov contributed to this report.