Trump warns of 'painful' weeks ahead as coronavirus crisis hits US hard
US President Donald Trump warned of “painful” and “tough” two weeks ahead as he extended the social distancing measures across the country while predicting around 100,000 to 240,000 deaths from the Covid-19 pandemic.
He advised every American to be prepared for the difficult times that lay ahead and to gird themselves for a spike in the death rate over the next fortnight even as he called for another 30 days of social distancing.
It was the first time that the administration had provided official projections for the potential death toll from Covid-19.
Trump insisted that the administration had handled the outbreak adequately and refused to accept responsibility for early testing failures.
Nevertheless, it was a sobering message from the President, having spent the previous few weeks downplaying the seriousness of the illness. Now he referred to the coronavirus as “not a flu, it’s vicious”.
"I don't want to be negative," he said. "This is easy to be negative about but I want to give people hope too. You know, I'm a cheerleader for the country."
"It's an incredibly dark topic. An incredibly horrible topic. And it's incredibly interesting. That's why everybody is, they're going crazy, they can't get enough of it," he said.
Another world leader who has also very recently dialed back on his denial of the seriousness of the coronavirus has been Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
The day before, Twitter and Facebook removed a video of the president talking about an experimental treatment for the virus and classified it as misinformation.
Brazil’s state governors implemented local social distancing policies to slow disease transmission, but Bolsonaro called them “job killers” because of the impact the shutdowns were having on the country’s economy.
Bolsonaro also downplayed the threat from coronavirus, comparing it to the flu or the sniffles, and said that he personally would only experience mild illness if he became infected, due to his "history as an athlete."
But the president was forced to change tack after a backlash from Brazilians which could threaten his political future and the stability of the country’s democracy, with some local media and lawmakers recently calling for Bolsonaro’s resignation or impeachment.