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: 90017

Reported Deaths: 2017
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin25857922
Ramsey10492318
Dakota7125125
Anoka5753132
Stearns377023
Washington357355
Scott242633
Olmsted228727
Nobles193116
Blue Earth15986
Wright15337
St. Louis135234
Carver13517
Rice13018
Mower12864
Clay126140
Sherburne109314
Kandiyohi9312
Winona85018
Lyon6464
Waseca5328
Steele5212
Freeborn5163
Benton5113
Watonwan5054
Nicollet49916
Todd4792
McLeod4462
Chisago4441
Le Sueur4444
Crow Wing43318
Otter Tail3924
Beltrami3764
Goodhue3309
Martin3199
Pine2810
Itasca27713
Polk2734
Isanti2580
Douglas2491
Becker2442
Carlton2391
Cottonwood2190
Pipestone2129
Unassigned20952
Morrison2031
Dodge1990
Chippewa1921
Sibley1793
Meeker1772
Wabasha1740
Brown1732
Yellow Medicine1582
Murray1542
Rock1520
Mille Lacs1453
Redwood1400
Jackson1331
Faribault1320
Renville1286
Cass1253
Roseau1160
Swift1141
Pennington1121
Houston1100
Fillmore1080
Kanabec1058
Koochiching1053
Lincoln1020
Stevens931
Pope880
Hubbard820
Aitkin711
Big Stone680
Wadena650
Grant584
Wilkin553
Lake530
Norman510
Marshall491
Lac qui Parle460
Mahnomen451
Red Lake390
Traverse300
Clearwater260
Lake of the Woods201
Kittson120
Cook60

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 80106

Reported Deaths: 1256
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk15318256
Johnson499527
Woodbury498961
Black Hawk434986
Linn3783106
Story328617
Dubuque279840
Scott279727
Dallas269038
Pottawattamie200037
Buena Vista194712
Marshall176134
Sioux13503
Wapello126757
Webster119314
Clinton107018
Muscatine106452
Plymouth105220
Crawford10014
Cerro Gordo99621
Warren9286
Jasper76632
Des Moines7417
Marion7154
Tama69031
Carroll6345
Henry6074
Lee5967
Wright5621
Dickinson4856
Boone4677
Bremer4627
Washington43111
Louisa42515
Mahaska34019
Franklin33617
Delaware3353
Hamilton3143
Jackson3003
Floyd2983
Winneshiek2985
Clay2923
Benton2861
Hardin2761
Winnebago27111
Butler2592
Clarke2553
Emmet25210
Poweshiek2498
Lyon2483
Allamakee2455
Jones2443
Buchanan2421
Shelby2421
Clayton2323
Guthrie2235
Cedar2211
Chickasaw2210
Kossuth2190
Sac2140
Grundy2052
Madison2052
Cherokee1942
Fayette1911
Iowa1851
Mitchell1830
Howard1825
Harrison1782
Humboldt1733
Hancock1722
Calhoun1702
Mills1681
Palo Alto1600
Pocahontas1522
Monroe14810
Lucas1426
Page1420
Monona1381
Jefferson1341
Cass1332
Osceola1260
Appanoose1233
Taylor1231
Union1223
Davis1144
Van Buren1101
Worth1020
Ida970
Keokuk911
Fremont870
Greene870
Montgomery865
Wayne822
Adair661
Audubon641
Decatur590
Ringgold412
Adams280
Unassigned160
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