“Certain states are going to have to take a little more time in getting open, and they’re doing that,” Trump said at a virtual “town hall” televised by Fox News on Sunday.
“Some states, I think, frankly, aren’t going fast enough,” he added, before singling out Virginia Governor Ralph Northam for extending his stay-at-home order to mid-June.
“You have some states that, Virginia, they want to close down until the middle of June,” Trump said. “I really believe that you can go to parks, you can go to beaches … And I really think the public has been incredible. That’s one of the reasons we are successful.”
Seeking to spur an economic recovery without risking lives, Trump said that “you can satisfy both”—gradually lift lockdowns while also protecting people from the pandemic. As of Monday, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, the novel coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19 and that emerged from China late last year, has killed tens of thousands of Americans.
At the town hall, Trump gave a revised estimate for the country’s overall COVID-19 death count.
“We’re going to lose anywhere from 75, 80, to 100,000 people,” he said. “That’s a horrible thing. We shouldn’t lose one person over this.”
Acknowledging valid fears on both sides of the issue, with some people worried about getting sick or dying while others devastated by lost jobs or bankrupt businesses, Trump said, “We have to get it back open safely but as quickly as possible.”
Republican National Committee Deputy Communications Director Cassie Smedile reacted to Trump singling out some states for failing to reopen sufficiently quickly.
“The president made a very good point last night when he said that this has to be a balancing act,” she said during an appearance on Fox News. “The first priority is always going to be the health and well-being of Americans. But part of that is economic well-being.”
Responding to a question about whether it is a reasonable goal for lockdowns to continue until there are practically no more deaths from COVID-19, Smedile said “absolutely not.”
Echoing Trump’s earlier remarks that America wasn’t built to stay inactive economically, she added, “we are a country that wants to work.”
Meanwhile, a top public health official cautioned last week that some states may seek to exit lockdowns too quickly.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on April 30 that states that aren’t able to do contact tracing should proceed to reopen “very slowly.”
Contact tracing is the practice of identifying everyone who came into contact during a set period of time with a person who tests newly positive for COVID-19.
“You can’t just leap over things and get into a situation where you’re really tempting a rebound,” he said. “That’s the thing I get concerned about. I hope they don’t do that.”