A resolute President Donald Trump prepared the nation for the next phase of the coronavirus struggle Sunday.
The upbeat tone Trump often used in talking about the pandemic and his hopes that the nation could start moving away from restrictions by Easter was replaced with a grim projection that America’s fight against COVID-19 is far from over.
“The modeling estimates that the peak in death rate is likely to hit in two weeks. I will say it again. The peak, the highest point of death rates, remember this, is likely to hit in two weeks,” the president said in the coronavirus task force news briefing at the White House.
“During this period, it’s very important that everyone strongly follow the guidelines. Have to follow the guidelines. … Therefore, we will be extending our guidelines to April 30 to slow the spread,” he said.
Trump said his Easter goal was “just an aspiration.”
“We can expect that by June 1, we will be well on our way to recovery,” he said, adding that “a lot of great things will be happening.”
The president was about the toll from the economic calamity surrounding the pandemic.
“You’re going to have mental depression for people,” he said. “You’re going to have large numbers of suicides. Take a look at what happens in a really horrible recession, or worse.
“So you’re going to have tremendous suicides, but you know what you’re going to have more than anything else? Drug addiction. You will see drugs being used like nobody has ever used them before. And people are going to be dying all over the place from drug addiction.”
Speaking of the death toll from the virus itself, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said it could be 100,000 to 200,000, depending on the model used.
“If we can hold that down, as we’re saying, to 100,000 — that’s a horrible number — maybe even less, but to 100,000 … we all, together, have done a very good job,” Trump said.
He pointed to studies that indicated the toll would be much higher if no action were taken.
“Potentially 2.2 million people if we did nothing,” Trump said. “If we didn’t do the distancing, if we didn’t do all of the things that we’re doing. And when you hear those numbers, you start to realize that with the kind of work we went through last week, with the $2.2 trillion, it no longer sounds like a lot, right?”
Fauci called the president’s move to extend social distancing “a wise and prudent decision.”
“The idea that we may have these many cases played a role in our decision in trying to make sure that we don’t do something prematurely and pull back when we should be pushing,” Fauci said, noting that Trump made the decision in collaboration with health experts.
The president said he is aware of the toll the virus is taking on America.
“I’ve been watching that for the last week on television,” he said. “Body bags all over in hallways. I’ve been watching them bring in trailer trucks — freezer trucks; they’re freezer trucks — because they can’t handle the bodies there’s so many of them. This is in my — essentially, in my community in Queens — Queens, New York. I’ve seen things that I’ve never seen before. …
“I just want to end by saying that we’re all in this together, all of us. I have never seen anything like it. The unity, the esprit de corps, the spirit — I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.
“Unfortunately, the enemy is death. It’s death. … But the level of competence, the level of caring, the level of love, I just think it’s brilliant. …
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I am very proud to be your president.”
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