World Trump signals growing skepticism about coronavirus lockdown

00:55  24 march  2020
00:55  24 march  2020 Source:   politico.com

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Coronavirus : The law that could save us from a medical supply shortage Coronavirus : The law that could save us from a medical Trump began broadcasting his growing impatience with public health measures meant to combat the pandemic — even as public health officials have offered contradictory

Trump signaled his concerns with the outbreak restrictions and the economy in a tweet late Sunday night. “we cannot let the cure be worse than the Senate floor erupts into partisan fury as coronavirus response bill bogs down again. One senior administration official said that there is a

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President Donald Trump is broadcasting his growing impatience with public health measures meant to combat the coronavirus pandemic — even as senior administration officials are promoting those measures as critical to preventing further loss of life and predicting a grim week ahead.


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Donald Trump has signalled a potential change in his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, amid warnings of a record plunge in economic activity and unemployment potentially hitting 30%, as a key Senate vote to move forward with a .8tn stimulus plan failed for a second time on Monday.

The president’s trust ratings regarding the coronavirus rank lower among those surveyed than other prominent sources of information, including the news media, state and local governments, and public health experts. Trump signals growing skepticism about coronavirus lockdown .

The president's message, which continued into Monday with a series of retweets, referred to the administration's "15 Days to Slow the Spread" initiative, announced last week.

Pictures: Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak around the world

The president's coronavirus task force urged Americans to practice social distancing; avoid gatherings of more than 10 people; work or attend school from home whenever possible; and abstain from eating or drinking at bars, restaurants and food courts.

At the task force's daily press briefing on Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence noted that the country was seven days into the effort and praised Americans' participation thus far.

"With the cooperation, compassion, generosity, and prayers of the American people, we can slow the spread, we can protect the most vulnerable, and we can heal our land," Pence said. "So let's do it, America." 

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But while the guidance may be helping "flatten the curve" of infected individuals within the United States, it has also contributed to a precipitous drop in economic activity — unemployment claims are surging around the country, and forecasters are predicting a depression-level decline in second-quarter GDP.

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: President Donald Trump. © Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images President Donald Trump. Even more stringent directives issued by state and local authorities, such as large-scale "shelter-in-place" orders, have similarly spooked financial markets and provoked fears of an imminent recession. A number of states rolled out new measures on Monday, including Maryland, Massachusetts and Wisconsin, while D.C.'s mayor announced she was deploying the national guard to prevent crowds from gathering to gawk at the cherry blossoms blooming along the Potomac River.

On Monday morning, promoted a very different approach, retweeting a handful of accounts that proposed Americans return to work in the near future and advocated for a resumption of daily life in the U.S.

"The fear of the virus cannot collapse our economy that President Trump has built up," read a tweet shared by the president. "We The People are smart enough to keep away from others if we know that we are sick or they are sick! After 15 days are over the world can begin to heal!"

In another post Trump retweeted, a Twitter user wrote that after 15 days, "we keep the high risk groups protected as necessary and the rest of us go back to work."

The president's social media activity came as Surgeon General Jerome Adams made a string of appearances on morning news shows, repeatedly cautioning that the coming days would prove among the most difficult in Americans' fight against the public health crisis.

Adams is one of a number of senior administration officials who have argued that social distancing recommendations will need to be sustained, not slackened, to curb the swift spread of COVID-19, and cautioned that the its threat to Americans will last longer than initially thought.

"I want America to understand: This week, it's going to get bad," Adams told NBC's "Today" show, adding that "we really, really need everyone to stay at home."

The increased availability of testing and the disease's rapid rate of transmission are expected to result in an eruption of new cases of COVID-19, which has already infected more than 41,700 people across all 50 states and produced at least 573 deaths. Because of limited testing capacity, experts agree the actual number of positive cases is much higher.

"As the nation's doctor, I'm here to help America understand how we need to respond to this," Adams said Monday, when pressed on Trump's weekend tweet previewing an impending "decision" on the administration's response efforts.

"And where I come down is that every single day counts," the surgeon general continued. "Every single second counts. And right now, there are not enough people out there who are taking this seriously."

In an interview last Wednesday with NBC, Adams acknowledged that 15 days of preventative measures is "likely not going to be enough" time to successfully halt the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S.

Pence, who is leading the administration's management of the outbreak, offered an even bleaker prediction a day earlier, saying that "according to some of our modeling, we could well be dealing with coronavirus cases in the United States well into July."

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also offered an inconclusive response when asked last Friday how long Americans would have to remain socially distant.

"I cannot see that all of a sudden, next week or two weeks from now, it's going to be over," he said. "I don't think there's a chance of that. I think it's going to be several weeks."

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And according to an internal report from the Department of Health and Human Services, produced last weekend and first reported on by The New York Times, the pandemic "will last 18 months or longer and could include multiple waves of illness."

Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiology professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said Monday that Trump's weekend tweet hinting at a potential suspension of social distancing "seems very counterproductive."

"The need for intense social distancing is very strong right now," Lipsitch said, noting that an abrupt end to the practice could eventually overwhelm health care providers.

"We should be thinking about not how bad it is now, but how bad it could be in three weeks," he added. "It takes three weeks before you need intensive care if you're getting sick, so we have to act now to stop what's coming three weeks from now."

Those dire assessments clash with rising complaints from some of the president’s top advisers and conservative allies that the economic devastation wrought by social distancing could prove more damaging than the coronavirus' human toll.

"We can't shut in the economy. The economic cost to individuals is just too great," National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow told Fox News in an interview Monday.

"The president is right: The cure can't be worse than the disease, and we're going to have to make some difficult trade-offs," Kudlow said, adding that he "spoke to the president about this very subject" late Sunday evening.

"We'll be looking at a number of different things," he said. "Let's give it another week."

"I think it is soon becoming time to have old and/or sick people take every precaution and healthy people go back to work forever changed [with] new habits in a grimmer reality," tweeted Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union.

Fox News host Laura Ingraham expressed frustration with the uncertain time frame for the federal government's guidelines, tweeting that returning to work after 15 days "will require new protocols" including wearing personal protective equipment.

"A global recession would be worse for our people than the Great Depression. Doctors provide medical treatment and cures—they should not be the determinative voices in policy making now or at the end of 15 days," Ingraham wrote.

"Even another week of this will mean millions more out of work, massive damage to businesses big and small, rental incomes, families at every income level, horrific pain and suffering," she continued in another post. "But if we knew this was almost over, recovery would be easier."

Lloyd Blankfein, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, also asserted that while "extreme measures to flatten the virus 'curve'" were reasonable to "stretch out the strain" on health care systems, "crushing the economy, jobs and morale is also a health issue-and beyond."

"Within a very few weeks let those with a lower risk to the disease return to work," he tweeted.

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