President Donald Trump has warned Americans to prepare for the “toughest week” of the coronavirus pandemic yet, predicting a surge in deaths.
At his daily briefing, the president said “there will be death” in a grim assessment of the days ahead.
Donald Trump sought to reassure the worst-hit states, promising medical supplies and military personnel to combat the virus.
However, in contrast to his warning, President Trump suggested easing social-distancing guidelines for Easter.
At a news conference at the White House on April 4, he said: “We have to open our country again.
“We don’t want to be doing this for months and months and months.”
President Trump’s calls to relax restrictions on life came on the day confirmed coronavirus infections in the US surpassed 300,000, the highest number in the world.
As of April 4, there were almost 8,500 deaths from Covid-19 in the US, with most in New York state – the epicenter of the outbreak.
On the same day, New York state recorded 630 more Covid-19 deaths, another daily record that takes its toll to 3,565. New York state now has almost as many cases – over 113,000 – as the whole of Italy.
The president gave a candid assessment of what lies ahead for the US in the coming weeks.
He said: “This will be probably the toughest week between this week and next week, and there will be a lot of death, unfortunately, but a lot less death than if this wasn’t done but there will be death.”
To support states in their fight against Covid-19, President Trump said his administration would be deploying a “tremendous amount of military, thousands of soldiers, medical workers, professionals”.
The military personnel will “soon” be advised of their assignments, the president said, adding that “1,000 military personnel” were being deployed to New York City.
President Trump also addressed his use of the Defense Production Act, a Korean-War-era law which gives him powers to control the production and supply of US-made medical products.
He said he was “very disappointed” with 3M, a US company that makes masks, saying it “should be taking care of our country” instead of selling to others.
However, the president rejected accusations that the US had committed an act of “modern piracy” by redirecting 200,000 Germany-bound masks for its own use.
On the question of easing social-distancing restrictions, President Trump reiterated a familiar theme.
President Trump has said: “The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself.”
Elsewhere in the world, there has been cause for optimism as the number of new infections and deaths from coronavirus has started to gradually diminish.
Globally, more than 60,000 people have died and more than 1.1 million have been infected, Johns Hopkins University says.