Trump on COVID-19: 'There will be a lot of death,' 'every decision we make is meant to save lives'

President says he'll be watching Greg Laurie's Palm Sunday service on laptop

U.S. President Donald Trump
President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence walk along the Colonnade of the White House prior to a coronavirus (COVID-19) update briefing Monday, March 30, 2020, in the Rose Garden at the White House. |

As the number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus passed 300,000 in the United States Saturday, President Donald Trump warned that the coming week could be “the toughest” with “a lot of death,” but also assured that every decision being made is to save lives. The president later announced he will join Pastor Greg Laurie’s Palm Sunday service online.

“This will probably be the toughest week — between this week and next week. There will be a lot of death, unfortunately. But a lot less death than if this (precautions) wasn’t done,” Trump said at a press briefing at the White House Saturday.

As of early Sunday, there were 312,237 cases of the COVID-19 disease caused by the novel coronavirus and 8,502 deaths in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center. The highest number of deaths — 2,624 — have occurred in New York City.

At the briefing, Trump announced the deployment of 1,000 medical military personnel to New York, the epicenter of the outbreak in the country.

Trump also mentioned that 1,000 ventilators have been donated to New York with the help of his friends in China — Alibaba founder Jack Ma and billionaires Joseph and Clara Tsai, according to media reports.

He also said the federal government had sent 4,400 ventilators to New York and Oregon is sending another 100 to that state.

“We will move heaven and Earth to safeguard our great American citizens,” Trump said. “We will continue to use every power, every authority, every single resource we've got to keep our people healthy, safe, secure and to get this thing over with.

“Every decision we’re making is made to save lives. It’s only our sole consideration. We want to save lives. We want as few lives lost as possible. It is therefore critical that certain media outlets stop spreading false rumors and creating fear and even panic with the public. It’s just incredible.”

Trump also spoke about his hope that the malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, could be useful in treating COVID-19. He said the nation is stockpiling 29 million doses of the drug. “I hope it’s going to be a very important answer; we are having very good things happening with it.”

On March 19, the United States Food & Drug Administration announced that they were investigating the usage of the drug chloroquine to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19 cases. “Studies are underway to determine the efficacy in using chloroquine to treat COVID-19,” explained the FDA. “While there are no FDA-approved therapeutics or drugs to treat, cure or prevent COVID-19, there are several FDA-approved treatments that may help ease the symptoms from a supportive care perspective.”

Trump said Saturday that his administration wants to “finish this war.”

“We have to get back to work,” he said. “We have to open our country again. We don’t want to be doing this for months and months and months … This country wasn’t meant for this.”

At the briefing, Vice President Mike Pence praised healthcare workers, saying they’re supplementing for family as visitors aren’t allowed in hospitals. Acknowledging that Palm Sunday is the start of Holy Week in the Christian tradition, Pence encouraged prayers for healthcare workers. “Pray for them and their families,” he said.

After the briefing, President Trump tweeted, “Palm Sunday is the beginning of a Holy week for many people of faith and a great day to lift our voices in Prayer. I will be tuning into Pastor @greglaurie at @harvestorg Church in Riverside, California tomorrow at 11:00 A.M. Eastern.”

As of early Sunday, there were more than 1.2 million confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus around the world and 64,774 deaths. While the virus originated in Wuhan, China, late last year, the number of cases in the United States has risen to more than three times the alleged 82,574 number of cases in China.

The day after the World Health Organization declared coronavirus a global health emergency, the Trump administration banned foreign nationals who had traveled to China from entering, exempting U.S. citizens and green-card holders.

Trump was criticized for the travel ban by Democratic officials and lawmakers at the time. Former Vice President Joe Biden accused the Trump administration of helping create a toxic atmosphere.

However, Biden’s campaign spokeswoman, Kate Bedingfeld, recently said on CNN that “Biden supports travel bans that are guided by medical experts.”

Last week, Trump announced that social-distancing guidelines had been extended through the end of April, and his administration’s Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx warned that the whole of America needs to prepare for the outbreak as “no state or metro area will be spared.”

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