U.S. President Donald Trump stormed out of a press conference about the coronavirus on Monday after a testy exchange with two female reporters, including one of Asian descent whom he told to “ask China” about the U.S. death toll.
The president fled after attempting to deflect a question from CBS reporter Weijia Jiang, who asked why Trump was treating COVID-19 testing as a competition amid tens of thousands of American deaths. Trump also suggested that the question was “nasty” — one of Trump’s go-to insults for women who challenge him.
The incident played out in the Rose Garden at the White House on Monday afternoon, where masked reporters were taking turns approaching stationary microphones to ask their questions. The microphones appeared to be switched off between questions.
“You’ve said many times that the U.S. is doing far better than any other country when it comes to testing,” Jiang said.
“Yes,” Trump replied.
“Why does that matter?” Jiang asked. “Why is this a global competition to you, when every day Americans are still losing their lives and we’re still seeing more cases every day?”
Harvard researchers have said the U.S. must process about 900,000 coronavirus tests per day to safely track new cases while re-opening. The U.S. is currently running at about 275,000 tests per day after a slow and widely criticized ramp-up in the early months of the outbreak.
Nevertheless, Trump spoke in front of huge banners on Monday that claimed, “America is leading the world in testing.”
America is also leading the world with 1.3 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 80,000 deaths from the virus. Data shows overall infection rates are falling, but that is in large part because hard-hit New York has managed to curb its outbreak. Infection rates are still on the rise in several other states, including ones on the verge of re-opening.
Trump has often described himself as a “wartime president” during this outbreak. He’s also started describing Americans as “warriors” in his push to re-open the country, while seeming to gloss over the fact that warriors tend to die in battle.
“The people of our country are warriors,” Trump told reporters last week.
“I’m not saying anything is perfect, and will some people be affected? Yes. Will some people be affected badly? Yes. But we have to get our country open and we have to get it open soon.”
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.
— With files from The Associated Press
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