US President Donald Trump Monday, at the Lincoln Memorial Town Hall , spoke to Fox News about the lockdown due to the novel coronavirus, the future possibility of a vaccine and the steps ahead in the fight against the pandemic. “We have to reopen our country,” Trump said during the town hall, even as he revised upward his projection for the total US death total to as much as 100,000.
In the United States, which has the world’s highest total of infections and deaths, at almost 1.2 million and 68,000 respectively, at least half of the 51 states are moving forward with plans to reopen stricken businesses.
Here is what he said:
1. “I think you can really have it both ways, you can satisfy both”
This was Trump’s advice on balancing the needs of the economy so that people can get back to work as soon as possible coupled with health concerns that Covid-19 cases are still surging.
Excerpts from the town hall: “I think you can satisfy both, if you’re scared you gonna stay back a little bit and watch it. I think anyone over 60, anybody over 60, you could say 65, but let’s make it 60, we have to protect those people. We have to watch it and maybe they stay back longer but no, I think we can really have it both ways. Lot of people wanna go back, you see it everyday, you see demonstrations all over the country. Those are meaningful demonstrations, its big stuff but you also have some people that are very scared, probably everybody is scared when you go right down to it.”
2. ‘It’s a terrible thing that happened to our country, it came from China, it should have been stopped”
Trump was talking about the origins of the coronavirus for which he squarely blamed China. At the moment, there are no reports to suggest that it originated from China, specifically, from a laboratory in Wuhan.
Excerpts: “It’s a terrible thing that happened to our country, it came from China, it should and could have been stopped at the spot but they chose not to do it, or something happened. Either it was incompetence, they didn’t do it for some reason, we are gonna have to find out what that reason was.”
3. “You’re going to have your job, you’re going to get another job, or you’re going to get a better job”
When asked about his plan to reopen the economy given that thousands of Americans are out of jobs amid the lockdown due to the pandemic and whether any help is coming their way, Trump said “we want to get to a point that when we open, we are not going to lose business or jobs”.
Excerpt: “Number one, there is more help coming. We have really no choice… remember it’s not your fault, and there’s more help coming, there has to be. And we want to get to a point when we open, we are not going to lose businesses, and more importantly, we are not going to lose jobs. And that’s the reason why we have to do more, Everyone wants to do more. So the answer is yes, we are going to do more, you’re going to have your job, you’re going to get another job, or you’re going to get a better job, you’re going to get a job where you’re going to make more money, frankly, that’s going to happen.”
4. “I have good feel for this stuff, have done this for a long time, we’ve built the greatest economy in the world, correct me if you like, but you can’t because it’s a fact”
Trump sounded bullish when he was asked about his views on the state of the economy post lockdown and he said the US is “going to have a incredible following year and that he has a good feel for this stuff.”
Excerpt: “I think we are going to have an incredible following year. We will be going into a transition in the third quarter and see things happening that look good, I really believe that.. and I have a good feel for this stuff, I have done this for a long time. We have built the greatest economy in the world, you can correct me if you like, but you can’t because it’s a fact, the greatest economy the world has ever seen, and one day they said, ‘Sir we are going to have to close it’. I said what? You’re talking about closing it, nobody ever heard that, we are going to have to close it. I think we saved millions of lives. But then we have to get it back open, safely but as quickly as possible.”
5. “I’ve never seen death like this, i have never personally experienced anything like it”
When asked if the shutdown went too far, Trump said the US did the right thing. Without the lockdown, “a minimum 4-5 million American lives could have been lost”, he said.
Excerpt: “We did the right thing, I do look back on it. Because my attitude was we are not going to shut it down. Look, we are going to lose anywhere from 75 to 80 to 100,000 people, that’s a horrible thing, we shouldn’t lose 1 per cent over this. It should have stopped in China. But If we didn’t do it, the minimum we would have lost is 4-5 million. I have never seen death like this, I have never personally experienced anything like it and they talk about the flu and all of that. Well I’ve known people that have had the flu all my life, look I never had the flu and then I came here and they wanted to give a flu shot and then I said i don’t want the flu shot but they have to give it. But you know what i know people who have had the flu all of my life, nobody ever died. I never had a friend he had flu and he died.”
6. “I believe you can go to parks, you can go to beaches, you can keep the spread, you can stay away a certain amount”
Trump really believes people can start going to parks and beaches as long as they maintain social distance. When asked for his response to a question on what federal protocols will be put in place for coronavirus testing in the country, the President said “Certain states may have to take a little more time to reopen and they are doing that, some states aren’t going as fast enough.”
Excerpt: “Look it depends on where you’re coming from. New York is a very much different place than Montana or many others states, really where it’s not too bad, its always bad, if you lose anybody it’s bad, and many states have lost significant numbers of people. Whether 20-25 people that’s significant. Certain states may have to take a little more time to reopen and they are doing that, some states aren’t going as fast enough. You have some states like Virginia, they want to close down till the middle of June, a lot of things they are doing… I really believe you can go to parks, you can go to beaches, you keep the spread, you stay away a certain amount, the public has been incredible, that’s one of the reasons we have been successful, if you call losing 80-90,000 successful, it’s one of the reasons we are not at the high end of the plane as opposed to the low end of the plane.”
7. “If we would’ve done ‘herd immunity’, we would’ve lost 2-and-a-half million people”
Trump was asked if he agreed with his son-in-law and his senior advisor Jared Kushner calling the federal response a ‘great success story’. He said it’s “too soon to say that, because we are in the middle of something.”
Excerpt: “Well it’s too soon to say that really I guess, because we are in the middle of something. But certainly, we would have lost a lot more people if we would have done as an example you call ‘herd immunity’, in another words, ‘everything is wonderful let’s just keep going along’, we would have lost 2-and-a-half million people. i think the American people have done a great job… this is a tragic situation, everybody knows somebody that has been affected, that’s a rare thing. Some states have done a better job than others, that’s the way it is, in some states you can do a lot less than other states, in New York I think you have to go around with masks, you will have to do distancing for a while, but some states are doing so well and others are…”
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