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Trump wants to end coronavirus lockdown to ensure people don't commit suicide: 'Love to have it open by Easter'

'You can't just come in and say let's close up the United States of America — the biggest most successful country in the world by far'
UPDATED MAR 25, 2020
Donald Trump (Getty Images)
Donald Trump (Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday, March 24, reiterated his sinister prediction that the continuation of nationwide lockdown could see several suicides as people are likely to go into depression. The president feared the same during his coronavirus briefings at the White House on Monday, March 23.

He said then that his administration was mulling lifting the restrictions on social distancing so that the effects of coronavirus did not push people towards suicides. He said the cure should not be worse than the problem. 

In an interview with Fox News on March 24, he repeated that the social distancing measures his administration is stressing should not continue for too long. 

"You're going to lose a number of people to the flu, but you're going to lose more people by putting a country into a massive recession or depression," he said, although there was no statistics-based evidence to back it. "You're going to lose people. You're going to have suicides by the thousands," he added. 

Speaking in the town hall-like interview from the Rose Garden, Trump said he would "love to have it open by Easter", indicating at restoring normalcy on the economic front. 

Over 54,000 people have been affected by the coronavirus in the US while the death toll is nearing 800. Worldwide, nearly 19,000 people have died while 0.42 million have been hit. The number of people who have recovered worldwide is 0.1 million. 

On Monday, Trump told the media: "You have tremendous responsibility. We have jobs. People get tremendous anxiety and depression, and you have suicides over things like this when you have terrible economies. You have death probably in far greater numbers than the numbers we are talking about with regard to the virus."

"So, we have a double obligation," he added.

'You just can't close up the United States of America'

Stressing that the world's biggest economic power could not be shut down for long, Trump said: "You're gonna have all sorts of things happen. You're going to have instability. You can't just come in and say let's close up the United States of America – the biggest most successful country in the world by far.”

The Republican leader is facing re-election this year and while a well-functioning economy remained his trump card till recently ahead of the November polls, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has ruined the plot.

The economy is showing serious signs of tanking and political forces are now fighting over releasing a coronavirus aid package.

National Institute Of Allergy And Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci talks to reporters about the Trump administration's response to the global coronavirus outbreak outside the White House on March 12, 2020, in Washington, DC (Getty Images)

Trump also said in the interview that there are officials who are urging him to shut the country down to slow the outbreak. "A few people walk into the Oval Office and they say, 'sir, we have to close up the country',” he said.

"We can do much of what we're doing and we can do it from a work environment instead of an environment where everybody's locked up and everybody is saying, 'Oh, the business is gone, the business is gone' and everybody's suffering depression." The 73-year-old said, "That causes death and that causes a lot of problems." 

But have crisis times like these seen a great surge in suicides in the US in the past?

According to research done by economist John Kenneth Galbraith, there was a rise from 17 per 100,000 people in 1929 to 21.3 in 1932 — when the US witnessed the Great Depression. 

Trump's idea to reopen the economy in the middle of the outbreak, however, has faced criticism from within his own party. Republican Representative Liz Cheney from Wyoming tweeted on Tuesday, March 24, saying there will be "no normally functioning economy".

"There will be no normally functioning economy if our hospitals are overwhelmed and thousands of Americans of all ages, including our doctors and nurses, lay dying because we have failed to do what’s necessary to stop the virus," she said.

Even Dr Anthony Fauci, a key member of Trump's coronavirus response, has emphasized on strong social distancing measures.