"He absolutely does not want you to view these deaths for what they are... a result of his abject failure to handle the pandemic in any logical way."
President Donald Trump made clear during both an interview and a press briefing Tuesday that he is willing to sacrifice lives for the sake of reopening U.S. businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic, declaring that jumpstarting the American economy is worth the dire public health risks.
"There'll be more death," Trump said in an appearance on ABC News. "I think we're doing very well on the vaccines but, with or without a vaccine, it's going to pass, and we're going to be back to normal."
The president said it is possible that there will be an increase in the U.S. death toll "because you won't be locked into an apartment or house or whatever it is."
"We have to get our country back," Trump added. "You know, people are dying the other way too."
ABC: Do you believe the reality is that lives will be lost to reopen the economy? TRUMP: "It's possible there will… https://t.co/3Yc7Z6iEaW— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar)1588718216.0
Trump's comments came a day after an internal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention document projected that the daily Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. could rise to 3,000 by June, nearly double the current rate. Despite warnings from public health officials and the lack of adequate testing, a number of states are taking steps to reopen their economies with the backing of the president.
Two anonymous Trump administration officials told CNN that new fatality projections "are not currently expected to affect the White House's plans for reopening the country."
In a press briefing on Tuesday, Trump said he views "our great citizens of this country to a certain extent and to a large extent as warriors."
"They're warriors," the president continued. "We can't keep our country closed. We have to open our country... Will some people be affected? Yes. Will some people be affected badly? Yes. But we have to get our country open."
"I think the term here is 'cannon fodder,'" Vox's David Roberts tweeted in response to Trump's "warrior" comments.
Trump on why businesses should reopen: "I'm viewing our great citizens of this country to a certain extent and to a… https://t.co/WuDOB1JyTC— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar)1588712681.0
Kim Nelson, a public health advocate and South Carolina Democratic congressional candidate, argued that Trump is characterizing people whose lives are at risk as warriors "so that you'll view those who died as having sacrificed for the greater good."
"He absolutely does not want you to view these deaths for what they are... a result of his abject failure to handle the pandemic in any logical way," Nelson tweeted.