President Trump on Wednesday defended his decision to downplay the severity of the coronavirus on the American people, saying the resulting panic would only have exacerbated the impending pandemic.
“I’m a cheerleader for this country,” he told reporters during a briefing at the White House. “I don’t want people to be scared. I don’t want to panic.
“We want to show trust. We want to show strength. We want to show strength as a nation. And I did that. “
Trump admitted in an interview with Washington Post editor Bob Woodward for his upcoming book that he “always wanted to play it [the coronavirus] down “publicly, although according to excerpts published on Wednesday, he gave a serious look behind the scenes.
He also presented public calm as a strategy to prevent price drops and ensure America could stockpile masks, dresses, and other supplies it needs.
When asked if he felt responsible for the now nearly 190,000 American deaths attributed to the coronavirus, Trump said the toll could have been much worse if his administration hadn’t taken steps.
“I think if we hadn’t done what we did, millions of people would have died,” he said. “We have closed our country. We closed it very, very quickly and very effectively. “
Trump specifically cited the January 31st order restricting travel from a “very heavily infected” China, where the virus originated.
“The last thing we can show is panic or excitement or fear or anything else,” Trump repeated. “We had to take care of the situation we were given.”