Trump declares coronavirus fight close to end, but cases rise
US President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic, in the press briefing room of the White House on March 24, 2020 in Washington, DC. Cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in the United States, with New York's case count doubling every three days according to Governor Andrew Cuomo.
AFP/Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Trump declares coronavirus fight close to end, but cases rise
Sebastian Smith (Agence France-Presse) - March 25, 2020 - 8:48am

WASHINGTON, United States — President Donald Trump declared the beginning of the end of the coronavirus crisis in the United States on Tuesday and called for a quick end to social distancing, even as New York's governor compared the growing pandemic to a "bullet train."

Trump, who is keen to get his reelection campaign back on track, said that social distancing has caused too much pain to the US economy, prompting Congress to debate a historic rescue package.

"Our country — it's not built to shut down," he said on Fox News. "You can destroy a country this way by closing it down."

"I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter," said Trump, declaring he could see "light at the end of the tunnel."

The president said he looked forward to "packed" churches on Easter, which is on April 12 — less than three weeks away.

Social distancing and quarantine measures have been instituted across much of the United States, with stay-at-home orders for more than a third of the population, bringing the world's biggest economy to an abrupt halt.

An Ipsos/Axios poll released Tuesday found that 74 percent of Americans have stopped attending large gatherings, while 48 percent have canceled travel plans, leaving airports deserted.

Another significant casualty of the shutdown has been the presidential campaign, with Trump having to halt a relentless series of big rallies around the country.

Health experts have advised the measures as the foundation for preventing the easily transmitted, potentially fatal illness from multiplying uncontrollably.

The administration on March 16 declared "15 Days to Slow the Spread," a period which expires early next week.

But Trump made clear Tuesday that he thinks the response to coronavirus deaths has been blown out of proportion, saying "we lose much more than that to automobile accidents. We didn't call up the automobile companies to say, 'Stop making cars.'"

Later, Trump appeared to retreat from his Easter goal at a press conference alongside the renowned government infectious diseases specialist Anthony Fauci.

"We'll only do it if it's good," Trump said, adding that the reopening could be limited to a "portion" of the nation. He mentioned areas like farm country, Texas and the west, often sparsely populated.

His own press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, quarantined since coming into contact with Brazilian officials almost two weeks ago, has tested negative, the White House said Tuesday.

$2 trillion

The plunge in activity and warnings of recession or even depression are a brutal reversal for what was until a few weeks ago a humming economy, with record low unemployment.

Congressional leaders said Tuesday they were getting closer all the time to delivering a major boost by passing a nearly $2 trillion rescue package for businesses, ordinary Americans and hospitals reeling from the shutdown.

Republicans and Democrats have been wrangling over the bill for several days but news that they were nearing a deal sent battered stock prices on Wall Street soaring.

This would be the biggest emergency injection of money into the economy in history, dwarfing even the bailouts of 2008, when a worldwide financial crisis sent the US economy into a tailspin.

'We are not slowing it'

More than 700 people have died from the new coronavirus in the United States, while the number of confirmed cases is near 54,000, a tracker maintained by Johns Hopkins University showed Tuesday.

The US has the third-highest number of confirmed cases globally, behind China and Italy.

And despite Trump's relentless optimism, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo warned of "astronomical numbers" in the state and the nation's biggest city.

"We are not slowing it. And it is accelerating on its own," he said, comparing the spread of the disease to "a bullet train."

Politics vs health?

With his reelection campaign temporarily knocked off track, Trump is now seeking to turn the coronavirus calamity into a dramatic comeback story that will deliver him a second term in November.

One of his main claims to a second term, prior to the coronavirus outbreak, was the strong economy.

"We can't lose a Boeing, we can't lose some of these companies," he said on the Fox News broadcast from the White House. "If we lose those companies we're talking about hundreds of thousands of jobs, millions of jobs."

However, his push for a quick reopening of the economy carries the risk that some will see it as putting wealth over the survival of the sick, especially the vulnerable elderly.

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said as much, urging those over 70 "not to sacrifice the country."

Cuomo, whose daily news conferences have made him a major national voice during the crisis, shot back at those calling for rapid economic reopening, saying "my mother is not expendable." — with Peter Hutchison in New York

DONALD TRUMP NOVEL CORONAVIRUS UNITED STATES
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: October 26, 2020 - 9:29am

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

October 26, 2020 - 9:29am

Australian health officials on Monday report no new coronavirus cases or deaths in Victoria state, which has spent months under onerous restrictions after becoming the epicenter of the country's second wave.

It was the first 24-hour period without any new COVID-19 cases reported in the state since the five million residents of Melbourne were locked down after security bungles at quarantine hotels housing returned international travelers sparked a major outbreak in July.

Under the lockdown, people in the city — Australia's second-biggest — have been barred from leaving their homes for non-essential reasons and spent months under an overnight curfew.

Some restrictions were lifted last week, allowing haircuts and golf games to return, but further easing planned for Sunday was delayed to assess thousands of test results after a small outbreak in the city's north. — AFP

October 25, 2020 - 11:08am

The United States saw a record high number of new daily COVID-19 cases for the second day in a row on Saturday, figures from Johns Hopkins University showed, as warnings grew over its spread.

The country reported 88,973 new infections between 8:30 pm Friday and 8:30 pm Saturday, the figures showed, substantially above the previous day's 79,963.

A total of 8,568,625 cases have been reported in the United States with 224,751 deaths, the highest in the world in absolute terms. — AFP

October 24, 2020 - 4:04pm

The Department of Health reports 2,057 additional cases of the coronavirus disease, bringing the national tally to 367,819.

To date, there are 47,773 active cases. The DOH registers 19 new deaths and 442 additional recoveries.

October 24, 2020 - 2:32pm

Poland's president tests positive for COVID-19, an official says.

October 24, 2020 - 1:24pm

A record of nearly 80,000 new Covid-19 infections over the course of a day were reported in the United States, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

Between 8:30 pm Thursday and the same time Friday, 79,963 infections were recorded, bringing the total number since the start of the pandemic to nearly 8.5 million in the country.

The United States had already approached the bar of 80,000 daily cases in July, largely due to new infections in southern states such as Texas and Florida, where the virus was then spreading out of control. — AFP

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