NEWS

Coronavirus Live Updates: As India Imposes 21-Day Lockdown, Trump Calls for U.S. to Be Open ‘by Easter’

The Tokyo Olympics have been postponed. President Trump expressed outrage at having to “close the country” to curb the spread of the virus. New York, now the center of the outbreak in America, braces for a flood of patients.

RIGHT NOW President Trump said he wants the United States “raring to go” by Easter, less than three weeks away, a goal that top health professionals have called far too quick.

The Trump administration never considered a nationwide lockdown, Pence and Trump say.

Even as nations from Britain to India declare nationwide economic lockdowns, President Trump said he “would love to have the country opened up, and just raring to go, by Easter,” less than three weeks away, a goal that top health professionals have called far too quick.

“I think it’s possible, why not?” he said with a shrug.

Participating in a town hall hosted by Fox News, Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence said on Tuesday that such a step has never been under consideration for the United States.

He expressed outrage about having to “close the country” to curb the spread of the coronavirus and indicated his guidelines on business shutdowns and social distancing would soon be lifted.

“I gave it two weeks,” he said, adding, “We can socially distance ourselves and go to work.”

Mr. Pence told viewers that talk of such a lockdown was misinformation that has circulated online.

“I can tell you that at no point has the White House Coronavirus Task Force discussed a nationwide lockdown,” he said, answering a question from a viewer on the phone.

Mr. Trump fell back on his comparison of the coronavirus to the flu, saying that despite losing thousands of people to the flu, “We don’t turn the country off.”

He also said that more people die of automobile accidents, but nobody forces car companies to stop manufacturing vehicles.

States including California, Maryland, Illinois and Washington have declared stay-at-home or shutdown orders, but other states have been looking for directives from the Trump administration. And countries in Asia are beginning to see a resurgence of coronavirus after easing up on restrictions.

But the president and vice president were resolute that they want the country reopened. Mr. Pence said the administration’s timeline for trying to get businesses restarted and workers out of their homes was shorter than the period that health experts have said would be necessary to flatten the curve.

“We’ll focus on our most vulnerable, but putting America back to work will also be a priority, in weeks not months,” Mr. Pence said.

He also said two malaria drugs, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for off-label use treating patients with Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The F.D.A. did not immediately confirm that assertion, but two administration health officials said it was not true.

Trump uses a town hall for politics.

Given a microphone for nearly two hours, President Trump used a town hall on Fox News for politics.

Mr. Trump lashed out at New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has been holding daily briefings of his own every day that have gained national attention as fact-based and emotional counters to Mr. Trump’s own daily briefings. Mr. Cuomo, who is seeking federal aid, has at times complimented Mr. Trump for his leadership during the crisis.

But Mr. Trump said he did not appreciate criticism he saw on television from someone he views as a rival. “I watch him on this show complaining,” Mr. Trump said. “He had 16,000 ventilators he could have had a great price and he didn’t buy them.”

Within moments of going live, he also went after his likely foe in November, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

He referred to him as “Sleepy Joe” and claimed that Mr. Biden did not know what the word “xenophobic” meant when he criticized Mr. Trump’s approach to the spreading coronavirus.

India’s prime minister decreed a 21-day lockdown for the country of 1.3 billion.

India, the world’s second-most populous country, will order its 1.3 billion people to stay inside their homes for three weeks to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared on Tuesday.

The extensive lockdown order was declared a day after the authorities there grounded all domestic flights.

Mr. Modi said the decree would take effect at midnight.

“There will be a total ban of coming out of your homes,” Mr. Modi said.

“Every district, every lane, every village will be under lockdown,” he said. “If you can’t handle these 21 days, this country will go back 21 years.”

“The only option is social distancing, to remain away from each other,” he said. “There is no way out to escape from coronavirus besides this.”

Left unclear was how Indians would be able to get food and other needed supplies. Mr. Modi alluded vaguely to the government and civil society groups stepping in to help, but offered no details.

Though India’s number of reported coronavirus cases remains relatively low, around 500, the fear is that if the virus hits as it has in the United States, Europe or China, it could be a disaster far bigger than anywhere else.

Mr. Modi also pledged to spend about $2 billion on medical supplies, isolation rooms, ventilators, intensive care units and training for medical personnel to combat the pandemic.

 

This article was originally published on nytimes.com

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