Trump likens himself to a wartime president amid coronavirus pandemic
President Trump on Wednesday said he felt like a wartime president as his administration seeks to reduce the spread of the coronavirus and ease the economic impact of the pandemic.
“I view it in a sense, a wartime president,” Trump told reporters at the White House when asked if he viewed the United States as being on wartime footing.
“That’s what we’re fighting. It’s a very tough situation,” Trump continued. “You have to close parts of an economy that six weeks ago were the best they’ve ever been.”
Trump, who has referred to the coronavirus as the “invisible” and “unseen” enemy, credited his administration with restricting travel from China earlier on and insisted that the administration is doing well in combating the virus.
“That’s always the toughest enemy — the invisible enemy,” Trump said earlier in his remarks at the White House. “I think we’re going to do it quicker than we thought.”
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 18, 2020
Trump’s remarks came as the count of coronavirus cases in the U.S. surpassed 7,000. The virus has spread to all 50 states and Washington, D.C., and the number of domestic deaths as a result of the outbreak reached 100 on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, the president announced he would invoke the Defense Production Act, a law first enacted in response to the Korean War in 1950. The law would allow the Trump administration to compel American industry to manufacture critical medical supplies like masks and gloves that are in short supply amid the outbreak.
Trump has expressed optimism about his administration’s efforts, at times downplaying the threat to the American people. The Trump administration has withstood scrutiny for a delay in testing that public health experts say set the government back in mitigating the spread.
The president has announced major steps to confront the outbreak and its economic impact over the past week, including declaring a national emergency and instructing Americans to avoid restaurants and public places.
The Trump administration is also working with Congress on an economic stimulus package to provide relief for American workers, small businesses and specific industries impacted by the outbreak.
–This report was updated at 2:37 p.m.