Trump signals growing skepticism about coronavirus lockdown

President Donald Trump on Sunday night appeared to suggest he would soon consider relaxing federal guidelines meant to combat the coronavirus pandemic — even as senior administration officials promoted those measures as critical to preventing further loss of life and predicted a grim week ahead.

“WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” Trump wrote on Twitter shortly before midnight. “AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!”

The president’s message referred to the administration’s “15 Days to Slow the Spread” initiative, announced last Monday, which urged Americans to practice social distancing; avoid gatherings of more than 10 people; work or attend school from home whenever possible; and abstain from eating or drinking at bars, restaurants and food courts.

At the White House coronavirus task force’s daily press briefing Sunday,Vice President Mike Pence noted that the country was seven days into the effortand praised Americans’ participation thus far.

“With the cooperation, compassion, generosity, and prayers of the American people, we can slow the spread, we can protect the most vulnerable, and we can heal our land,” Pence said. “So let’s do it, America.”

But while the guidance is helping “flatten the curve” of infected individuals within the United States, it has also contributed to a precipitous drop in economic activity.

Even more stringent directives issued by state and local authorities, such as large-scale “shelter-in-place” orders, have similarly spooked financial markets and provoked fears of an imminent recession.

On Monday morning, Trump signaled growing skepticism regarding those health-related lockdowns, retweeting a handful of accounts that proposed Americans return to work in the near future and advocated for a resumption of daily life in the U.S.

“The fear of the virus cannot collapse our economy that President Trump has built up,” read a tweet shared by the president. “We The People are smart enough to keep away from others if we know that we are sick or they are sick! After 15 days are over the world can begin to heal!”

In another post Trump retweeted, a Twitter user wrote that after 15 days, “we keep the high risk groups protected as necessary and the rest of us go back to work.”

The president’s social media activity came as Surgeon General Jerome Adams made a string of appearances on morning news shows, repeatedly cautioning that the coming days would prove among the most difficult in Americans’ fight against the public health crisis.

[Politico]

Reality

Trump’s tweets came minutes after Fox News Steve Hilton said the same thing.

In coronavirus tweet storm, Trump touts suspect ‘cure’ and potential easing of guidelines to boost economy

President Donald Trump on Monday unleashed a barrage of posts spreading conspiracy theories about the coronavirus, chastising the World Health Organization for its early messaging, attacking his political enemies and the media, and promoting a dubious article that suggested a miracle cure was at hand. 

In more than a dozen tweets and retweets that started near midnight, the president signaled his anxiety about the economic toll the disease was wreaking on the American economy and suggested that he could ease up on 15-day guidelines the White House imposed a week ago. 

Trump also suggested he would support the decision of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over whether to cancel the Tokyo Olympics and expressed opposition to the release of some inmates from crowded jails, which is happening in several states as a public health precaution for low-level offenders and the elderly. Abe on Monday reportedly hinted the games might need to be postponed.

“WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” Trump wrote in a tweet posted near midnight on Sunday. “AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!”

The president then retweeted, or posted to his own account, a number of replies, including one from a man named Chuck Callesto, who is identified as a “Digital Real Estate Manager,” promoting a possible cure. 

“They should take a SERIOUS LOOK at this…” Callesto wrote in the tweet posted to the president’s account, with a link to a story with the headline “REPORT: French Doctor Reports 100 % Cure Rate Using Malaria Drug to Treat Corona Virus.”

There is no known cure or treatment for coronavirus, though scammers have sought to cash in on the panic it has caused. On Sunday, the Department of Justice announced that it has taken its first action in federal court to stop COVID-19-related fraud, following Attorney General William Barr’s direction to prioritize prosecution of illegal conduct related to the pandemic.

The DOJ said in a press release that it recommends that Americans ignore “offers for a COVID-19 vaccine, cure, or treatment. Remember, if a vaccine becomes available, you won’t hear about it for the first time through an email, online ad, or unsolicited sales pitch.”

The White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not respond to requests for comment on the president’s messages on Twitter.

In other messages, including tweets and retweets, the president attacked former Vice President Joe Biden, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president, as well as The New York Times, the WHO, and China, which he suggested was manipulating health data. 

In several posts, the president suggested that he was looking to ease the coronavirus-related guidelines that the White House imposed last week for a 15-day period that will end next Tuesday.

After the initial all-caps message, the president retweeted a number of accounts suggesting that future guidelines from the White House will call for isolating high-risk groups only.

“Flatten the curve NOT the Economy,” an account retweeted by the president wrote. 

The current federal guidelines, which are separate from the mandatory restrictions put in place by a number of states, call for individuals not to congregate in groups of more than 10, to avoid discretionary travel and to refrain from dining or drinking at restaurants, bars and food courts. 

Tens of millions of Americans remain under virtual lockdown because of state-level actions to close businesses and keep people indoors. California and New York, the nation’s most populous states, have effectively put their economies on pause. 

The president’s tweet storm came as coronavirus surpassed 350,000 confirmed infections around the world, with a death toll rising past 15,000. Worldwide, cases have doubled in the past week, according to the WHO, and deaths have nearly tripled. 

The effect of the disease and containment measures meant to stop it have tanked markets, with the worst expected to come. Weekly job loss claims are soon expected to hit records, dwarfing the numbers seen during the 2008 recession. 

The president’s tweets come as the administration is wrestling with the appropriate response to the virus moving forward. Officials worry that the first measures, called for by public health experts, may have been too harsh, and are considering separate guidelines for the hardest-hit states of California, New York and Washington, according to NBC News. The guidelines for other states could call for a return to business. 

Trump has sought to blame China, where the virus originated, for the disease, dubbing it the “Chinese Virus” against the recommendations of public health officials in his administration. In his posts on Monday, Trump suggested without evidence that China was putting out false information about coronavirus. 

He retweeted a post sent by his son, Donald Trump Jr., promoting a story in the conservative outlet Breitbart News with the headline “WHO Spread False Chinese Government Propaganda: Coronavirus Not Contagious Among Humans.”

The WHO did not return a request for comment. 

Another post retweeted to Trump’s timeline asks why people should take Chinese health statistics “at face value” given its cover-up of the Tiananmen Square massacre. 

Trump has criticized China during his public press briefings from the White House for not disclosing information about the virus earlier, though he has also expressed sympathy for the hard-hit nation and President Xi Jinping.

“China has gone through hell over this. They’ve gone through hell. And I’ve had conversations with President Xi. I just wish they could have told us earlier. They knew they had a problem earlier,” Trump said at Saturday’s briefing. 

[CNBC]

Donald Trump Shares “Chinese Virus Facts” That Are Pure Propaganda and Bunk

Donald Trump shared a video of Fox News’ Jesse Watters making a poor attempt at gaslighting you, saying:

1) “Trump did not cut funding for the CDC. It has increased since he took office.”

FACT: True CDC funding has risen, because Congress denied Trump’s multiple requests to cut CDC funding. Requests still happening today: https://thehill.com/policy/finance/486817-trump-budget-chief-holds-firm-on-cdc-cuts-amid-virus-outbreak?amp

2) “Trump did not get rid of the NSC Pandemic unit.”

FACT: Trump absolutely dismissed his Pandemic Response Team in 2017, here is video of Trump bragging about firing the team in 2018: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/coronavirus-video-trump-pandemic-team-cut-2018-a9405191.html

3) “Trump did not call the “China Virus” a hoax.”

FACT: Here is video of Trump calling COVID-19 a hoax: https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1233570800223084544?s=21

4) “Trump did not silence scientists.”

FACT: All government scientists are banned from talking to the public and all communications of government scientists must go through Mike Pence: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/27/us/politics/us-coronavirus-pence.html

5) “Trump never told governors they are on their own.”

FACT: Trump told governors they are on their own and his administration is not a shipping clerk: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-19/trump-told-governors-to-buy-own-virus-supplies-then-outbid-them

6) “Google is working on a website to test coronavirus”

FACT: Trump said earlier that they are working with Google to create a virus testing website for all Americans. Watters however claimed the press said that Google has no plans to do it, which was fake news. That’s not what the press pointed out at all and in fact Google itself was forced to fact-check Trump their website was not ready for all Americans but just testing in the Bay Area and had no plans to roll out to the rest of the country:
https://www.factcheck.org/2020/03/trump-misrepresents-google-coronavirus-website/

Reality

This is what Fox News does, it creates an alternative reality for their viewers by ignoring key facts, withholding context, and making stuff up.

Make no mistake this is propaganda. If you saw the media arm of a political party in any other country you would say this is exactly what propaganda looks like. If you watch Fox News you are willfully accepting lies.

Trump calls for anti-malaria drug to be used ‘immediately’ despite caution from top health expert

Donald Trump has called for an anti-malaria drug to be used to treat the coronavirus “immediately”, despite his top health expert having said that evidence for its effectiveness was so far “anecdotal”.

On Saturday morning the president tweeted: “HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine. The FDA has moved mountains – Thank You! Hopefully they will BOTH (H works better with A, International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents) be put in use IMMEDIATELY. PEOPLE ARE DYING, MOVE FAST, and GOD BLESS EVERYONE! @US_FDA @SteveFDA @CDCgov​ @DHSgov.”

Hydroxychloroquine is an anti-malarial drug while azithromycin is an antibiotic.

Mr Trump had mentioned hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment on Thursday, before being publicly rebuked by Anthony Fauci, his lead expert in the fight against Covid-19. The coronavirus has infected at least 18,000 people in the US and killed more than 270.

On Thursday the president said: “I do want to say – to me, something so big – the FDA has approved compassionate use for a significant number of patients. We have a drug called chloroquine. A derivation would be hydroxychloroquine, which I hear even better about.

“It’s a common malaria drug. It’s been available, so therefore the safety level we understand very well. It’s been relatively safe. And it showed very encouraging early results. Really encouraging. 

“If we – if this works as well as – hopefully it might. The FDA, which would have taken normally much longer to do under our great Secretary … the head of the FDA has been – Dr Stephen Hahn – he has been fantastic. He got it approved very quickly.  I won’t even tell you how quickly, but let’s put it this way: It’s approved.  And we’re encouraging you to take a look at it. We have ordered a lot of it, and you can too. It’s by prescription.

“It’s a very powerful drug for malaria and also for various forms of very serious arthritis. But we think it has a very serious – a very good impact on what we’re talking about with respect to the virus. So you’ll take a look at that. Then you can coordinate with us. But I think, to me, that’s a game changer.”

But asked about whether the drug was a promising solution, Dr Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a White House news conference on Friday that the “the answer is no”.

He said that “the evidence you’re talking about … is anecdotal evidence”

“It was not done in a controlled clinical trial. So you really can’t make any definitive statement about it.”

Dr Fauci told CNN “there’s no magic drug”.

This is not the first time during the coronavirus crisis that the president has clashed with his health experts. Having repeatedly claimed that a vaccine could be developed within months, Dr Fauci and others were forced to stress that it would take at least a year and perhaps longer than 18 months.

[The Independent]

Trump falsely claims drug approval for virus

President Donald Trump misstated the facts Thursday when he asserted that the Food and Drug Administration had just approved a decades-old malaria drug to treat patients infected by the coronavirus. After his FDA chief clarified that the drug still needs testing, Trump also overstated the drug’s potential upside in helping contain the outbreak.

A look at his claims at a news briefing:

TRUMP: “And we’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately, and that’s where the FDA has been so great. They — they’ve gone through the approval process. It’s been approved.”

THE FACTS: The drug, known chemically as chloroquine, has been available for decades to treat the mosquito-borne illness malaria. Technically, doctors can already prescribe the drug to patients with COVID-19, a practice known as off-label prescribing. But Trump falsely suggested to reporters that the FDA had just cleared the drug specifically for the viral pandemic spreading in communities across the U.S. That would mean that the drug had met the FDA’s standards for safety and effectiveness.

Minutes later, FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn emphasized that the drug still needs testing to determine if it can help patients. He said chloroquine would have to be tested in “a large pragmatic clinical trial to actually gather that information.”

Drug trials typically require hundreds or thousands of patients and, even when accelerated, take weeks or months to complete. In his remarks, Hahn reflected on his background as a cancer doctor and warned against giving patients “false hope” before drugs are fully vetted.

While chloroquine has shown promise in preliminary laboratory studies, some experts are skeptical it will prove effective in human testing.

“I think it could be a game changer, and maybe not,” Trump said, discussing the drug.

But the FDA reiterated in a statement Thursday that there are “no FDA-approved therapeutics or drugs to treat, cure or prevent COVID-19.”

___

TRUMP: “If chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine works, or any of the other things that they’re looking at that are not quite as far out … your numbers are going to come down very rapidly.”

THE FACTS: The drugs he is referring to are for treatment in patients already infected. That doesn’t prevent spread of the virus. One study is testing chloroquine to try to protect health care workers at highest risk of infection, because a vaccine is likely a year or more away.

[Associated Press]

Dr. Fauci swiftly fact-checks Trump on COVID-19 testing shortages: ‘That is a reality that is happening now’

Dr. Anthony Fauci fact-checked President Donald Trump’s claims about coronavirus testing.

The president insisted that he wasn’t hearing any complaints about Americans who have symptoms of COVID-19 but could not get tested, and Trump disagreed with Fauci’s earlier advice to test everyone to see who should remain in quarantine.

“I’m not hearing it,” Trump said. “We don’t want everybody to go out and get a test because there’s no reason for it.”

Another reporter came back to the topic less than three minutes later in the news conference, and asked Fauci whether testing availability was meeting public demand.

“I get the same calls that many of you get,” Fauci said. “Someone goes into a place who has a symptom and wants to get a test and for one reason or other, multiple logistic, technical, what have you — they can’t get it. That is a reality that is happening now. Is it the same as it was a few weeks ago? Absolutely not, because as the secretary and others have said, right now that we have the private sector involved the availability — not only just availability, but the implementation of the availability is getting better and better and better. Having said that, I understand and empathize with the people who rightfully are sayin, ‘I’m trying to get a test, and I can’t.’”

[Raw Story]

Trump Lashes Out at NBC News’ Peter Alexander Over Question About What to Tell ‘Scared Americans’

President Donald Trump called an NBC News journalist a “terrible reporter” for asking a legitimate question about what the president would say to Americans feeling scared about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has claimed the lives of at least 194 people in the country.

“What do you say to Americans who are scared?” NBC News’ Peter Alexander asked on Friday. “There’ll be 200 dead, 14,000 who are sick, millions — as you witnessed — who are scared right now. What do you say to Americans watching you right now who are scared?”

“I say that you’re a terrible reporter,” Trump responded. “I think that’s a very nasty question, and I think it’s a very bad signal that you’re putting out to the American people. The American people are looking for answers and they’re looking for hope. And you’re doing sensationalism, and the same with NBC. … That’s really bad reporting, and you ought to get back to reporting instead of sensationalism.”

President Donald Trump called an NBC News journalist a “terrible reporter” for asking a legitimate question about what the president would say to Americans feeling scared about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has claimed the lives of at least 194 people in the country.

“What do you say to Americans who are scared?” NBC News’ Peter Alexander asked on Friday. “There’ll be 200 dead, 14,000 who are sick, millions — as you witnessed — who are scared right now. What do you say to Americans watching you right now who are scared?”

“I say that you’re a terrible reporter,” Trump responded. “I think that’s a very nasty question, and I think it’s a very bad signal that you’re putting out to the American people. The American people are looking for answers and they’re looking for hope. And you’re doing sensationalism, and the same with NBC. … That’s really bad reporting, and you ought to get back to reporting instead of sensationalism.”

[Yahoo News]

Media

Trump says he knew coronavirus was a pandemic ‘long before’ it was declared

President Trump on Tuesday said that he realized that the coronavirus outbreak was a pandemic before the World Health Organization (WHO) labeled it as such last week.

“This is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic,” Trump said at a press conference with his coronavirus task force. “All you had to do was look at other countries.”

The president’s comments were in response to being asked if he agreed that his rhetoric surrounding the coronavirus become more reserved on Monday. Trump disagreed, saying that he always knew the outbreak was “serious.”

Trump’s answer immediately drew ire, with some pointing to a March 9 tweet of the president’s.

“The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its semi-considerable power (it used to be greater!) to inflame the CoronaVirus situation, far beyond what the facts would warrant,” Trump tweeted at the time.

Trump also previously characterized the virus as a Democratic “hoax.”

In the past week, the Trump administration has ramped up its efforts to combat the illness that has infected more than 5,600 Americans and caused more than 90 deaths.

Late last week, Trump declared the outbreak a national health emergency, which freed up billions of dollars of potential aid. During his press conference Tuesday, Trump said that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would be meeting with Senate Republicans later in the day to talk about the third phase of an economic stimulus package aimed at helping the economic fallout that has been caused by COVID-19.

Numerous states have forced restaurants and bars to close in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus and called on Americans to work from home. The Trump administration on Monday recommended that people should avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.

[The Hill]

Trump Attacks ‘Failing’ Michigan Governor After She Hits ‘Mind-Boggling’ Coronavirus Response on MSNBC

President Donald Trump attacked Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Twitter for “failing” to combat the coronavirus in her state after she claimed to have little federal support on MSNBC.

“Failing Michigan Governor must work harder and be much more proactive,” Trump wrote. “We are pushing her to get the job done. I stand with Michigan.”

“But we need the federal government to work. We need respirators and ventilators and personal protection equipment. We need more test kits and the resources to process those test kits in a quick expedited manner,” added the Governor.

When Ruhle asked, “Can you get [the tests] without federal support?” Whitmer responded, “No, no! We need federal support. Like I said, we’re pulling out all of the stops and reaching out to our partners in the private sector and we’re going to do everything we can to supplement but it’s not to the exclusion of federal support. We need the federal government to ramp up and get this done.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Bashes Cuomo For Wanting All States Treated Equally for ‘Chinese Virus’: ‘Keep Politics Out Of It’

President Donald Trump is keeping his fight with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo going, tussling over how to address the coronavirus pandemic.

“Cuomo wants “all states to be treated the same.” But all states aren’t the same,” Trump tweeted, before using a name for the disease critics have slammed as racist. “Some are being hit hard by the Chinese Virus, some are being hit practically not at all. New York is a very big “hotspot”, West Virginia has, thus far, zero cases. Andrew, keep politics out of it….”

Trump’s tweet is a continuation of the swipes he launched on Cuomo after Monday’s teleconference between the president and state governors across the country. Cuomo has repeatedly expressed frustration that the federal government isn’t doing enough to respond to the virus, so Trump accused him of being the one who has to “do more.”

Cuomo fired back by saying “YOU have to do something! You’re supposed to be the President.” He also said he’d be “happy” to do Trump’s job if the president hands control of the Army Corps of Engineers over to him.

[Mediaite]

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