Over the weekend, as the coronavirus crisis in the U.S. intensified as cities shut down bars and over 30 states closed schools, President Trump engaged in his usual online routine, tweeting about the “boring” Democratic debate and his strong consideration of a pardon for Michael Flynn. But on Monday, at a press conference in the White House, his tone changed significantly — far from his Friday message of “I don’t take any responsibility at all.”
To help slow the spread of the coronavirus and “blunt the infection now,” Trump announced new national guidelines for the next 15 days that encourage the practice of social distancing:
Trump and public-health officials emphasized the importance of young people staying in. Yesterday he said that healthy people “are not strongly affected,” but today he urged young people to recall that the coronavirus can be spread even if a person is asymptomatic. Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, appealed to millennials specifically: “They are the core group that will stop this virus.”
On domestic travel restrictions, Trump said that “we’re hoping we don’t have to,” but that “we haven’t made that decision” yet. When asked how long the restrictions would be in effect, he said: “They think August. It could be July — could be longer than that.” When asked if the economy could be headed toward a recession, he sounded remarkably different from last week, saying simply, “It may be.” On other topics, he sounded remarkably different compared to other times in his presidency: “I think a lot of the media actually has been very fair,” he said, commenting on the coverage of the pandemic.
Still, Trump’s old habits endured. Not only was the president tested for COVID-19 on Friday night — he was “very strongly tested.” He called the coronavirus “a problem that, a month ago, nobody thought about.” When asked if the buck stopped with him on the government’s testing failures, he said, “Yeah, normally, but this has never been done before in this country.”
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