President Donald Trump, who has been criticized for not having empathy during the coronavirus pandemic, told the families of the over 71,000 victims of the virus, “I love you,” on Tuesday.
“I want to say, ‘I love you,'” he told ABC News’ “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir.
“I want to say that we’re doing everything we can.”
He added that his administration is working hard to protect people over 60 years old who could be at greater risk of contracting the virus.
“I want to just say to the people that have lost family and have lost loved ones, and the people who have suffered so badly and just made it — and just made it — that we love you,” Trump said.
“We’re with you. We’re working with you. We’re supplying vast amounts of money like never before. We want that money to get to the people and we want them to get better.”
The president also said that he has taken the deaths caused by the COVID-19 outbreak extremely hard.
“To the people that have lost someone, there is nobody — I don’t sleep at nights thinking about it — there’s nobody that’s taken it harder than me,” Trump said. “But, at the same time, I have to get this enemy defeated.”
As the number of Americans who have died from the coronavirus surpassed those who died during the Vietnam War, Trump has been consistently criticized for failing to express his condolences to the families who have been impacted.
As of Wednesday morning, 71,463 people have died from the coronavirus in the United States, according to data from Johns Hopkins.
In the 28 hours Trump has spent talking at 35 media briefings since March 16, he had only spent 4.5 minutes expressing his condolences for the victims, according to an April 26 analysis by The Washington Post.
During his interview with David Muir, Trump said that while “it’s possible there will be some [lives lost]” when the country is reopened, the social distancing measures Americans have been practicing should still remain place.
“We’re going to practice social distancing, we are going to be washing hands, we’re going to be doing a lot of the things we have learned to do over the last period of time,” he said.
“And we have to get our country back. People are dying the other way too. When you look at what’s happened with drugs, it goes up. When you look at suicides — I mean take a look at what’s going on. People are losing jobs. We have to bring it back.”
Trump emphasized that the country has to slowly be reopened, pointing to people like the protesters at state capitals who need things to be phased back to normal.
“Our country has to go back to being our country again. You have people that are not going to stand for this and I understand them very well,” he said.
“We are going to put out little embers and little fires, and maybe some big fires, but we still have to go back to work.”
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