Coronavirus: Trump says call with Joe Biden was 'wonderful' but gives no indication of agreement

President predicts a 'rough more than a little week' ahead before 'light at the end of the tunnel'

John T. Bennett
Washington
Tuesday 07 April 2020 00:10
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Donald Trump wishes Boris Johnson well in his recovery from coronavirus

Donald Trump said he spoke to Joe Biden, his likely general election foe, about the federal coronavirus response as he touted a new deal with a private-sector firm to make 55.5m protective face masks a month on a day when US stock markets rebounded from a virus-triggered drop as he contradicted his health advisers by saying he sees a "short period of time" remaining in the national lockdown.

In another briefing that veered from virus-related topic to topic, the president suggested he might help a US Navy aircraft carrier commander who was fired for raising concerns about Covid-19 spreading through his crew and retaliate against countries that refuse to ship treatment medications to the United States. Mr Trump was more open to a second round of direct payments to Americans than his top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, by saying more direct deposits are "under serious discussion" with lawmakers as part of a fourth coronavirus aide measure many expect as soon as this month; Mr Kudlow would not commit the White House to wanting a fourth bill earlier Monday.

As his administration have warned the next few weeks, all of April, would be the "peak" in many hard-hit cities, the president predicted the worst of the virus and its death toll will come during what he predicted would be a "rough more than a little week." The president again said he sees a "light at the end of the tunnel" even as his public health team warns of hundreds of thousands of cases and deaths.

But, in another – yet slight – contrast, the president's top infectious disease adviser, Anthony Fauci, told reporters "we might not ever go completely back" to the social and health norms of the pre-Covid era. Mr Trump, however, has said he wants the country to be "open for business" like it was before the outbreak as soon as possible because it isn't "built" to be shutdown.

The president called their 15-minute conversation "warm" and "wonderful," saying the likely future foes "talked about pretty much this," meaning the Covid-19 outbreak.

"He gave me his point of view, and I understood that," Mr Trump said during his nightly virus press conference. "And it was really good. Really nice. I appreciate his calling." But he did not give any indication that he and his possible replacement agree on just what the federal government should be doing about the pandemic outbreak.

Mr Biden leads Mr Trump in most national polls about a one-on-one general election race, but the two are very close in the six or seven swing states that should decide the race.

On a day US stock markets rebounded with big gains, Mr Trump announced the end of his administration's fight with 3M.

He said that company has agreed to make 55.5m protective face masks each month for "frontline" medical workers. "So the 3M saga ends very happily," he said after criticising the company and its executives for weeks.

Mr Trump also sounded a somber tone about UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who on Monday was transferred to an intensive care unit in a London hospital after being admitted there after being diagnosed with coronavirus.

Mr Trump said "Americans are praying for Boris Johnson" and urged genius' drug companies to 'contact London."

While he described his "friend" Mr Johnson as "strong" and resolute" and someone who "doesn't give up, Mr Trump also gave this ominous assessment: "When you get brought into intensive care, that gets very, very serious."

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