President Donald Trump has said that this week and the next will probably be the toughest for the United States in the fight against the coronavirus, and that “there will be a lot of death.”
So far, more than 8,000 people in the U.S. have died from the virus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has more confirmed cases of COVID-19 than any other country in the world, with more than 300,000 people infected.
“This will be probably the toughest week,” Trump told reporters at a White House press briefing on COVID-19 Saturday afternoon, which was carried live by major television networks.
“There will be a lot of death, unfortunately, but a lot less death if this was not done,” Trump continued, referencing the steps the federal government has taken to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus.
Earlier in the week, the White House’s coronavirus task force signaled a grim estimation that anywhere from 100,000 to 240,000 people in the U.S. could die from the disease even if the recommended social distancing guidelines are followed.
Trump also said he spoke to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to release US’ order of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), being touted as a possible cure for Covid-19.
“I called Prime Minister Modi of India this morning. They make large amounts of Hydroxychloroquine. India is giving it a serious consideration,” Trump told reporters.
India had last month restricted the export of the drug to ensure sufficient domestic supply as the South Asian country sees sharp daily spikes in the number of coronavirus cases. Currently, over 3,030 cases have been reported, with over 70 deaths.
Meanwhile, doctors connected with the White House coronavirus task force team stressed that even though deaths may increase, they’ll be looking at the total number of coronavirus cases and the degree to which it slows down as a better indicator of how well prevention efforts are doing. They said the lag occurs in reporting deaths due to the nature of the disease and encouraged people to continue social distancing and other measures.
Health officials urged Americans to continue following social distancing guidelines, with Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases calling it “our most important tool.” He pointed to Washington state, where social distancing measures appear to be paying off.
Senator Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling for the president to invoke the full Defence Production Act as states struggle with medical supply shortages.
“We are not going to overcome this supply problem unless we have someone, a military person in charge,” Schumer said today.
Schumer said he talked to President Trump and other White House officials and asked them to seriously consider allowing the military to take over factories and supply chains.
“We’re in a wartime here, and we need this military leader, command and control with the president’s full backing, and that will make this horrible, horrible scourge end more quickly with fewer illnesses and fewer deaths,” Schumer said.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said today that the state will receive 1,140 ventilators from China and Oregon.
The Chinese government has facilitated a donation of 1,000 ventilators that are expected to arrive at JFK Airport, Cuomo said during a press conference.
“This is a big deal and it’s going to make a significant difference for us. Also, the state of Oregon contacted us and is going to send 140 ventilators.”
As the U.S. surpassed 7,000 deaths, some state leaders say there’s still a lot they’re missing in the battle against the coronavirus.