President Donald Trump said Saturday he may take an anti-malaria drug that he’s been promoting as a treatment for coronavirus even though doctors warn that it’s unproven, and he hasn’t been diagnosed with the illness.
“I might do it anyway. I may take it, OK? I may take it,” Trump told his daily briefing. “And I have to ask my doctors about that. But I may take it.”
Trump’s remarkable offer to take hydroxychloroquine even though he doesn’t need it came during a freewheeling news conference in which he touted the “efficient” rollout of a small business relief program and attacked the Navy captain who was fired after warning about the pandemic’s effect on his crew.
“I just hope that hydroxychloroquine wins,” he said. “What do you have to lose? Take it! Try it if you’d like.”
He echoed claims about the drug made by right-wing allies even as doctors warn evidence is scant that it has any therapeutic effects.
“It would be a gift from heaven if it works,” Trump added.
Trump seemed to veer back toward his initial reluctance to maintain social distancing rules. For days, he’d been urging strict adherence to the rules, which medical experts say are saving lives.
The problem is that social distancing rules damage the economy, Trump said. “I said from the beginning that the cure cannot be worse that the disease and I’m still saying that,” he said, repeating his mantra that the country has to “open up” sooner rather than later.
“The next two weeks are going to be a very deadly period,” the president added. “The numbers are the numbers.”
Trump sought to instill confidence that Americans would be able to pack football stadiums by the time the season starts at the end of the summer.
But Dr. Anthony Fauci took a different tone, warning that the country would have to remain vigilant for many months to flatten the curve of death and illness and keep it down.
Fauci praised restaurants in Washington, D.C., for marking on sidewalks to keep takeout customers safely apart from each other.
“When people are separated from each other, the virus does not transmit. It doesn’t go anywhere,” Fauci said.
Trump and members of the coronavirus task force spoke as the national death toll rose above 8,000. More than 300,000 Americans have contracted the deadly virus.
Trump said he “100% backs” the Navy’s decision to remove Capt. Brett Crozier after he wrote a letter warning his superiors of spreading coronavirus on the USS Theodore Roosevelt.
“It was terrible what he did, to write a letter. This isn’t a class on literature,” Trump said, waving off reports that sailors cheered Crozier for sounding the alarm on their behalf. “He shouldn’t be talking that way in a letter.”
Waving off widespread reports of a rocky launch to the coronavirus loan program to smaller businesses, Trump insisted the program was going very smoothly.
“It’s been flawless so far. Far beyond our expectations,” he said. “I don’t even hear of any glitch.”
In a return to political sniping, Trump also angrily defended his late night firing of the inspector general who informed Congress about the intelligence whistleblower’s complaint in the Ukraine scandal.
Trump derided intelligence community IG Michael Atkinson as a “disgrace” for obeying legal requirements to forward the report that wound up sparking the impeachment inquiry.
“It was a fake whistleblower,” said Trump, who also slammed “corrupt” Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chair of the House Intelligence Committee. “And frankly, someone ought to sue his a — off.”
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