Trump charges media wants businesses closed to defeat him

President Trump on Wednesday accused the media of pushing to keep restrictions in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus — measures supported by most public health experts — in an effort to hamper the economy and harm his reelection chances.

“The LameStream Media is the dominant force in trying to get me to keep our Country closed as long as possible in the hope that it will be detrimental to my election success,” Trump tweeted without citing specific outlets or evidence. “The real people want to get back to work ASAP. We will be stronger than ever before!”

The tweet marks yet another escalation in Trump’s bid to reframe the discussion about when to ease social distancing guidelines that have led to the closure of businesses across the country.

The president’s tweet also underscores the degree to which the November general election may factor into his decisionmaking. Trump has tied his campaign closely to the strength of the economy, which has cratered as companies lay off workers and the stock market plunges because of the virus. Media companies have been among those that have cut pay or laid off workers.

The president has in recent days made clear he is not willing to wait more than a few weeks for Americans to return to work and for businesses to reopen. He said Tuesday that he envisions Easter as a goal for when churches will be “packed” and people will be going back to their jobs, at least in certain parts of the country.

Trump’s goal has run into a wall of opposition from governors in both parties who set public health guidelines in their respective states. Illinois, Ohio, California, New York, Michigan and other states have imposed stay-at-home orders, closed down nonessential businesses and suspended school for weeks to try to combat the virus.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Wednesday he anticipated the peak number of cases would arrive in his state in about three weeks, while Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) projected his state would see a similar surge around May 1. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday that Trump’s Easter goal has to be “flexible.” He cautioned that officials do not yet have enough data about areas of the country where reports of coronavirus cases remain low but where few have been tested.

The White House has said Trump will listen to public health experts such as Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx before ultimately making a decision on his own on how to proceed with federal guidelines.

There were more than 62,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. as of late Wednesday afternoon, and nearly 900 Americans have died from the virus.

Tags Coronavirus Donald Trump

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