“It’s artificial because we turned it off,” Trump said of the economic crisis, a distinction that makes no difference to the millions who have lost their jobs and their health insurance.
During a Coronavirus Task Force briefing late Thursday following news that 10 million Americans filed jobless claims over just a two-week period last month, President Donald Trump downplayed the intensifying economic downturn as “an artificial closing” and insisted that businesses like restaurants will be “bigger and better” than before once the COVID-19 crisis subsides.
“It’s not like we have a massive recession or worse. It’s artificial because we turned it off,” Trump said, drawing a distinction that makes no difference to those who have lost their jobs—as well as employer-provided health insurance—or seen their hours drastically cut due to the crisis.
“Oh thank God, for a second I thought I was actually unemployed and not just artificially unemployed,” one Twitter user quipped in response to the president’s comments.
Trump’s message to the 6 million people who filed unemployments claims in the last week is that “it’s an artificial closing. It’s not like we have a massive recession or worse. It’s artificial because we turned it off … we will probably do more.” pic.twitter.com/FGVi6xIvbq
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 2, 2020
The president’s remarks came after the Labor Department announced Thursday morning that 6.6 million Americans filed jobless claims last week, a record-breaking figure that economists warned could portend an unprecedented depression.
“This kind of upending of the labor market in such a short time is unheard of,” wrote Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute. “Given the incredible deterioration of the labor market in a matter of weeks, federal policymakers will absolutely need to come back and provide more desperately needed relief, and more support for the recovery once the lockdown is over.”
Dr Birx proves that no amount of gushing compliments can compensate for even a little bit of honesty with Trump: op-ed
One of President Trump's top infectious disease experts, Dr. Deborah Birx, is known for avoiding Trump's wrath, but that changed when she recently decided to speak frankly on the growing spread of coronavirus across the country. While Trump walked back his public criticism of her, the dust shows that no amount of "gushing compliments or massaging statistics can compensate for even a little bit of honesty with this man," the Washington Post's Molly Roberts writes.
While Birx appeared to be in control of the facts when she first emerged as a figure on the coronavirus task force, she soon became someone Democrats couldn't trust.
Trump has now predicted COVID will ‘go away’ in each of the last seven months
President Donald Trump on Wednesday told "Fox & Friends" that the novel coronavirus "will go away, like things go away."
As Democratic political operative Daniel Wessel notes on Twitter, this is not the first time the president has made bold declarations about the virus disappearing.
Back in February, Trump said the virus "miraculously goes away," then said in March that "it'll go away," and then in April declared that "it's going away."
A third of Afghans estimated to have contracted virus: health ministry
Nearly a third of Afghanistan's population -- or 10 million people -- has been infected with the coronavirus, according to health ministry estimates published Wednesday.
The figure comes from a survey based on antibody tests on around 9,500 people across the country, with technical support from the World Health Organization, health minister Ahmad Jawad Osmani said at a press briefing.
The survey estimated that 31.5 percent of the population had contracted the virus, with the highest infection rate in Kabul where more than half of the city's five million population were thought to have been infected.