President Donald Trump asked his top health adviser last month why officials couldn’t simply let COVID-19 “wash over the country,” infecting people, The Washington Post reported Saturday.
In his haste to jumpstart the economy, Trump posed a frightening scenario to Dr. Anthony Fauci during a task force meeting in the Situation Room. No COVID-19 countermeasures would be taken so that people would quickly become infected, with some recovering to create a protective herd immunity, sources told the newspaper.
“Why don’t we let this wash over the country?” Trump asked, a question others told the Post the president has raised repeatedly in the Oval Office. Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, realized with surprise that Trump was serious, the Post reported.
“Mr. President,” Fauci responded, according to the Post. “Many people would die.”
Trump’s public comments during that time also indicate he was considering such a scenario to get the economy moving again — despite the toll. He said repeatedly that the “cure cannot be worse than the problem itself,” implying that saving lives could be less important than saving the economy. He has claimed without evidence that more people would die from a weak economy than from a pandemic.
Last month Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Fox News, a supportive sounding board for the the president’s policies, also raised the startling fringe notion that “lots of grandparents out there” are willing to take a chance against COVID-19 to save the economy. Patrick, 70, said he would put his own survival on the line for “keeping the America that all Americans love.”
Another populist leader, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, also early last month raised a “theory” about Britons “taking it on the chin, take it all in one go and allow the disease … to move through the population.”
Johnson at that time didn’t think it was such a bad idea for Britons to attend mass sports events. This month Johnson landed in intensive care after testing positive for COVID-19. He’s no longer in intensive care but remains hospitalized,
Johnson enacted social distancing guidelines later last month after an Imperial College report predicted a 250,000 death toll in Britain — and up to a 1.2 million tally in the U.S. — if strict social distancing and isolation measures weren’t taken.
Trump’s consideration of a free range COVID-19 was part of a lengthy analysis by the Post on the Trump administration’s lack of a plan to combat the virus. You can read the entire article here.
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