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Coronavirus US live: Trump to base reopening call on ‘facts and instincts’ as deaths pass 20,000 | US news

Here’s Ed Helmore – who is in Rockland County, a New York state coronavirus hotspot – with more on what Donald Trump told Fox News about reopening the US economy, or not, last night:

Donald Trump has re-iterated his position that any decision to re-open the US economy will be his to make, saying the decision will be the biggest of his presidency.

In a call to Jeanine Pirro on Fox News on Saturday evening, Trump said he would seek advise from many “smart people” before issuing any directive. Last week, the Trump announced he would establish a bipartisan “Opening Our Country Council” to weigh in on issue.

“A lot of very smart people, a lot of professionals, doctors and business leaders are a lot of things that go into a decision like that,” he told Pirro. “And it’s going to be based on a lot of facts and a lot of instinct also. Whether we like it or not, there is a certain instinct to it.

The council, Trump added, would include “some of the most distinguished leaders in virtually every field, including politics and business and medical. And we’ll be making that decision fairly soon.”

Trump’s phone-in came ahead of an early morning tweet on Sunday in which he attacked a New York Times report which said the White House failed to act on several explicit security agency warnings in January about the potential for coronavirus to spread to the US.

“So now the Fake News is tracing the CoronaVirus origins back to Europe, NOT China. This is a first! I wonder what the Failing New York Times got for this one? Are there any NAMED sources? They were recently thrown out of China like dogs, and obviously want back in. Sad!”

Trump’s interpretation of the report appeared to misconstrue scientific evidence that the spread of coronavirus to the Eastern US came through Europe – but not that it originated there.

The claim comes despite evidence that trade adviser Peter Navarro warned Trump in 29 January memo that as many as 500,000 Americans could die if the virus was allowed to spread across the US unchecked. A day later, health and human services secretary Alex Azar issued a similar warning. The White House did not issue national social distancing guidelines until 16 March.

On Saturday, Trump vowed to rebuild the US economy, which has suffered trillions of dollars in damage from the outbreak, as a tribute to those who have died. Trump predicted that the economy to rebound like a “rocket ship” because Americans have combated the coronavirus the “right way”.

“We did it the right way. We took care of social distancing and all of the things, words that nobody ever heard before, frankly, and phrases. But if we didn’t do that, we would have pulled through it,” Trump said.

“There were estimates, 2.2 million people. Well, if you cut that in more than half and you said a million and cut that in half. You say 500,000, it just would have been unacceptable.”

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