Fed Up With Social Distancing, Trump Goes Back to Likening Coronavirus to the Flu

“You’re going to lose more people by putting the country into a depression.”

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President Trump, in the latest signal of his mounting frustration with the economic impact of the coronavirus, is back to inaccurately comparing the death rates of the virus to the seasonal flu in order to justify calling for the reopening of the economy in the near future—possibly as soon as Monday.

“We lose thousands of people a year to the flu, we never turn the country off,” Trump said during Fox News’ Tuesday coronavirus special. “We lose much more than that to automobile accidents. We didn’t call up the automobile companies and say, ‘Stop making cars, we don’t want any cars anymore.’ We have to get back to work.”

Trump then appeared to argue that the economic damage of keeping social distancing measures in place would bring a greater loss of life than the increase of deaths that experts have warned would come after ending the restrictions. “You’re going to lose more people by putting the country into a depression,” he said.

The remarks on Tuesday came as a breathtaking return to Trump’s initial take on the virus—an approach that saw the president repeatedly minimizing its threat and falsely equating it to the flu—before he, after a long delay, adopted a more serious approach, as recommended by public health experts, just last week. That shift finally saw the White House suddenly embracing social distancing measures and attempting to take steps to abate the crisis.

But Trump’s prioritization of the economy threatens to erase hope that the country could dramatically stem the spread of the virus. Experts warn that in the absence of more tests and stricter isolation measures, as seen in countries like South Korea, the US will see deaths skyrocket.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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