In televised town hall, President Trump pushes for economic reopening

President Donald Trump listens during a demonstration of ways NASA is helping to combat the coronavirus, in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Friday, April 24, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

He acknowledged fear on both sides of the issue, some Americans worried about getting sick while others are concerned about losing jobs.

Posted: May 3, 2020 10:07 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Anxious to spur an economic recovery without risking lives, President Donald Trump on Sunday insisted that “you can satisfy both" — see states gradually lift lockdowns while also protecting people from the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 60,000 Americans.

The president, fielding questions from Americans in a virtual town hall from the Lincoln Memorial, acknowledged valid fears on both sides of the issue. Some people are worried about getting sick; others are reeling from lost jobs and livelihoods.

But while Trump increased his projection for the total U.S. death total to 80,000 or 90,000 — up by more than 20,000 fatalities from what he had suggested just a few weeks ago — he struck a note of urgency to restart the nation's economy, declaring “we have to reopen our country.”

“We have to get it back open safely but as quickly as possible,” Trump said.

After more than a month of being cooped up at the White House, Trump returned from a weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland for the virtual town hall hosted by Fox News Channel.

The president said of his monumental backdrop: "We never had a more beautiful set than this.”

As concerns mount about his reelection bid, Trump stuck to his relentlessly optimistic view of the nation's ability to rebound soon.

“It is all working out,” Trump said. “It is horrible to go through, but it is working out.”

Many public health experts believe the nation cannot safely reopen fully until a vaccine is developed. Trump declared Sunday that he believed one could be available by year’s end.

U.S. public health officials have said a vaccine is probably a year to 18 months away. But Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases and member of the White House coronavirus task force, said in late April that it is conceivable, if a vaccine is soon developed, that it could be in wide distribution as early as January.

Though the administration's handling of the pandemic, particularly its ability to conduct widespread testing, has come under fierce scrutiny, the president tried to shift the blame to China and said the U.S. was ready to begin reopening.

“I’ll tell you one thing. We did the right thing and I really believe we saved a million and a half lives,” the president said. But he also broke with the assessment of his senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, saying it was “too soon to say" the federal government had overseen a “success story."

Trump's impatience also flashed. While noting that states would go at their own pace in returning to normal, with ones harder hit by the coronavirus going slower, he said that “some states, frankly, I think aren’t going fast enough." He singled out Virginia, which has a Democratic governor and legislature. And he urged the nation's schools and universities to return to classes this fall.

Federal guidelines that encouraged people to stay at home and practice social distancing expired late last week.

Debate continued over moves by governors to start reopening state economies that tanked after shopping malls, salons and other nonessential businesses were ordered closed in attempt to slow a virus that has killed more than 66,000 Americans, according to a tally of reported deaths by Johns Hopkins University.

The U.S. economy has suffered, shrinking at a 4.8% annual rate from January through March, the government estimated last week. And roughly 30.3 million people have filed for unemployment aid in the six weeks since the outbreak forced employers to shut down and slash their workforces.

The president's advisers have nervously watched Trump's support slip in a number of battleground states and he was told last month that if the election were held that day, he would lose to Democrat Joe Biden. The president's aides believe restarting the economy, even with its health risks, is essential to a victory in November and are pushing for him to pivot away from discussions about the pandemic and onto an American comeback story.

To that end, Trump will begin traveling again, with a trip to a mask factory in Arizona planned for Tuesday. The president also is set to speak in June at commencement for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Returning to campus for commencement will require graduates to self-isolate for 14 days, but Trump insisted the event poses no risk to the cadets.

The town hall, which included an appearance by Vice President Mike Pence, included a rare mea culpa: The vice president said he should have worn a facemask during a visit last week to Minnesota's Mayo Clinic. Pence's failure to wear a mask violated the clinic's guidelines and drew significant criticism.

Elsewhere in Washington, the Senate planned to reopen Monday, despite the area's continued status as a virus hot spot and with the region still under stay-at-home orders. The House remains shuttered as debate continues on what the next stage of the economic recovery may look like.

State and local governments are seeking up to $1 trillion in coronavirus costs, which has been met with some objections by congressional Republicans.

Trump said that while he thought common ground could be found with Democrats over an infrastructure package, “we’re not doing anything unless we get a payroll tax cut. That is so important to the success of our country.”

That proposal has been met with objections from both parties.

The leaders of California and Michigan are among governors under public pressure over lockdowns still in effect while states such as Florida, Georgia and Ohio are reopening.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, said Sunday that the armed protesters who demonstrated inside her state's Capitol “depicted some of the worst racism” and “awful parts” of U.S. history by showing up with Confederate flags, nooses and swastikas.

Trump on Sunday night singled out Whitmer and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, also a Democrat, for criticism even as he praised the federal coordination with most governors. He also complained that some Democrats would rather “people get sick” than given him any credit for pushing the use of a malaria drug for treating COVID-19, though it has not been proven to be safe and effective for that use.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 20573

Reported Deaths: 878
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin6918534
Ramsey231697
Stearns192312
Nobles14572
Anoka116455
Dakota105935
Olmsted55110
Washington50626
Kandiyohi4541
Clay36623
Rice3652
Scott3462
Wright2401
Sherburne2081
Todd1970
Benton1662
Carver1612
Mower1501
Steele1400
Martin1245
Blue Earth1121
St. Louis11113
Pine850
Freeborn840
Winona7715
Carlton730
Nicollet683
Cottonwood620
Polk582
Otter Tail550
Itasca527
Goodhue522
Watonwan500
Chisago481
Dodge430
Meeker420
Crow Wing421
Le Sueur411
Chippewa400
Jackson390
Morrison380
Murray350
Becker320
Lyon310
Douglas290
McLeod260
Isanti250
Waseca240
Rock210
Unassigned199
Fillmore171
Mille Lacs161
Wabasha160
Swift150
Sibley120
Beltrami120
Wilkin113
Norman110
Kanabec111
Cass113
Faribault110
Brown112
Pipestone100
Marshall80
Pennington70
Pope70
Aitkin60
Wadena60
Yellow Medicine50
Koochiching50
Lincoln50
Mahnomen51
Renville50
Lac qui Parle30
Red Lake30
Big Stone30
Redwood30
Traverse30
Grant20
Houston20
Clearwater20
Hubbard10
Kittson10
Lake10
Roseau10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 17227

Reported Deaths: 456
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk3714108
Woodbury255524
Black Hawk167639
Linn92775
Marshall86611
Dallas84914
Johnson5987
Muscatine54339
Wapello5004
Crawford4772
Tama39023
Louisa3347
Scott3319
Dubuque31916
Jasper25616
Buena Vista2310
Pottawattamie2106
Sioux1990
Washington1798
Allamakee1184
Wright1170
Plymouth1080
Warren1060
Story941
Poweshiek888
Bremer676
Henry611
Clinton601
Boone540
Des Moines531
Mahaska526
Cedar451
Guthrie433
Taylor370
Benton371
Jones360
Monroe334
Iowa320
Clarke320
Osceola320
Shelby310
Buchanan310
Clayton303
Marion290
Webster271
Fayette260
Hamilton260
Madison241
Monona230
Cerro Gordo221
Lee220
Winneshiek210
Davis200
Lyon190
Grundy190
Harrison190
Floyd181
Jefferson150
Cherokee150
Butler150
Mills140
Delaware140
Humboldt130
Sac130
Greene130
Keokuk130
Hardin130
Howard120
Hancock120
Appanoose123
Audubon111
Jackson110
Cass110
Ida100
Page100
Clay100
Winnebago100
Carroll90
Van Buren80
Franklin80
Dickinson80
Adair80
Chickasaw80
Kossuth70
Emmet70
Lucas60
Montgomery60
Union60
Adams50
Ringgold40
Fremont40
Pocahontas40
Mitchell40
Palo Alto30
Worth30
Unassigned30
Calhoun20
Wayne10
Decatur00
Rochester
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 66°
Mason City
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 65°
Albert Lea
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 64°
Austin
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 70°
Charles City
Overcast
68° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 68°
Storms a brewin'
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Deciding on the return of prep sports in Iowa

Image

Sean Weather 5/24

Image

Minnesota campgrounds missing out on Memorial Day Weekend

Image

Minnesota places of worship to open this week

Image

MDVA to honor veterans virtually on Memorial Day

Image

Roosters base ball club of Rochester holds first practice

Image

Sean Weather 5/24

Image

Sean Weather 5/23

Image

Parks reopen in Rochester

Image

No summer sports for Belmond-Klemme

Community Events