WASHINGTON, DC -- President Donald Trump said Saturday that the United States was heading into what could be its “toughest” week in the fight against coronavirus as cases swell nationwide.
“There will be a lot of death, unfortunately. There will be death,” Trump said in a somber start to his daily briefing on the pandemic.
Trump painted a grim picture of the next week or two, but added that there will be less death than if certain mitigation steps were not taken.
“This will be probably the toughest week between this week and next week, and there will be a lot of death, unfortunately, but a lot less death than if this wasn't done but there will be death,” Trump said.
Experts have called for a federal stay-at-home order, but Trump said he would continue to leave it up to state governors.
There are now 300,915 cases of coronavirus and 8,162 deaths in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University's tally.
On Saturday, at least 22,962 new cases and 1,010 new deaths were reported in the nation, according to Johns Hopkins. Wyoming is the only state yet to report a coronavirus death.
While speaking at the coronavirus task force briefing on Saturday, Trump warned states not to inflate their needs for critical medical equipment.
Trump said the goal was to stay several days ahead of critical medical needs in each state. But he also suggested that states were asking for more medical supplies than they really needed.
“The fears of the shortages have led to inflated requests,” Trump said.
Louisiana officials have said New Orleans is on track to run out of ventilators by next week. Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, whose state is at the epicenter of the national pandemic with over 113,700 confirmed cases as of Saturday, has pleaded for ventilators for days and lambasted what he has said is insufficient help from the federal government. New York is poised to get more than 1,100 ventilators from China and Oregon.
Trump also revisited a familiar message, saying he wants to get the economy up and running as soon as possible. At one point during the unfolding outbreak, Trump said he had hoped to open up businesses by Easter, April 12. He later acknowledged that was not possible, ceding the month of April after seeing rising death toll projections.
“We have to vanquish the virus as quickly as we can. … We have to get back to work,” he said.
Trump said the commissioners of U.S. professional sports leagues told him Saturday in a phone call that they want to get back to fully functioning, as the President lamented that "this country wasn’t meant" to be shut down.
"They want to get back, they've got to get back. They can’t do this," Trump said at the coronavirus task force briefing. "Sports weren’t designed for it, the whole concept of our nation wasn’t designed for it."
The President said he spoke to the leaders of "virtually all of the sports leagues, including the commissioners of the MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL."
He said he told them that he recognizes “the good work being done by many teams and players” to care for their communities and fan bases dealing with the outbreak.
The virus has decimated the sports world with the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League suspending their seasons indefinitely and Major League Baseball postponing the start of its season.
The NCAA basketball tournament was also canceled, as were college spring sports such as baseball and softball, lacrosse and track and field.
"We don’t want to be doing this for months and months and months,” Trump said. “This country wasn’t meant for this. Few were."