United States President Donald Trump admitted during the White House press briefing on Tuesday that he “knew” the coronavirus “could be horrible” but did not want “to be a negative person” when asked whether he earlier downplayed the existing coronavirus threat.
“This is really easy to be negative about. But I want to give people hope too”, Trump said during the briefing. “You know I'm a cheerleader for the country — we are going through the worst thing that the country has probably ever seen”.
Trump: "I knew everything. I knew it could be horrible and I knew it could be maybe good" pic.twitter.com/KWPbdQV3dz— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) March 31, 2020
The president also told the press that the next few weeks will be “very painful” for the United States and warned that every citizen should be “prepared for the days that lie ahead”.
The warning came after medical experts briefed the president that COVID-19 could take the lives of 100,000 to 240,000 Americans even if the existing quarantine orders continue to be implemented.
Many health experts earlier slammed Donald Trump for failing to seriously address the coronavirus threat when the first cases of infection were recorded in the country in late January.
“We have it under control. It's going to be just fine”, Trump said on 22 January, while arguing a month later that a number of coronavirus cases would be “close to zero” in a “couple of days”.
However, on 13 March Donald Trump declared a national state of emergency in the United States over the coronavirus threat. A number of strict quarantine measures and stay-at-home orders have since been imposed around the country to prevent the rapid spread of the virus.
There are currently around 189,000 coronavirus cases across all 50 US states, according to Johns Hopkins University data and more than 4,000 Americans have already died after catching the virus.