As countries around the world lock down to prevent the spread of the virus, President Donald Trump is pushing for Americans to return to work.
"We have to put the country to work," he said on Fox News Tuesday, warning that if the economy suffers, there will be "suicides by the thousands."
During a Monday evening press briefing, Trump said that deaths caused by a poor economy "definitely would be in far greater numbers than the numbers that we're talking about with regard to the virus."
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President Donald Trump said Tuesday that there will be "suicides by the thousands" if entire sectors of the US economy remain shutdown in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus that threatens to overwhelm hospitals.
"We have to put the country to work,' he said on Fox News. "You are going to lose a number of people to the flu, but you are going to lose more people by putting the country in a massive recession or depression."
"You are going to lose people. You are going to have suicides by the thousands," he continued. "You can't just come in and say, 'Let's close up the United States of America.'"
The US is about halfway through the White House's "15 Days to Slow the Spread" plan, and the president appears to be growing impatient.
Trump said on Fox that he "would love to have the country opened up, and just raring to go, by Easter," less than three weeks away.
The coronavirus has spread to nearly 400,000 people worldwide and claimed more than 17,000 lives. In the US, nearly 50,000 people have been infected, and almost 600 people have died. In hard-hit New York, the number of cases has surpassed 25,000.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo painted a terribly bleak picture of the situation in his state during a Tuesday morning press briefing. "We're not slowing it, and it is accelerating on its own," he said, adding that the rate of new infections in the state is doubling every three days.
He predicted that similar situations are likely in California, Washington, and Illinois.
Even as others raise concerns, Trump is determined to restart the US economy. "Our country wasn't built to be shut down. This is not a country that was built for this. It was not built to be shut down," Trump said Monday evening.
"People get tremendous anxiety and depression, and you have suicides over things like this, when you have terrible economies," he said, adding that deaths caused by the economy "definitely would be in far greater numbers than the numbers that we're talking about with regard to the virus."
Increases in suicides have been reported during past periods of economic instability. At the same time, some experts have estimated that as many as 1 million Americans could die as a result of the coronavirus if it is left untreated.
"America will again, and soon, be open for business," Trump said Monday night.
The president's comments on re-opening the US followed a move several hours earlier by the United Kingdom to lock down the entire country, a move other European countries have had to take to prevent the spread of the virus.