WASHINGTON — President Trump on Wednesday described the coronavirus pandemic as the worst attack the US has ever endured, calling it worse than Pearl Harbor or 9/11.
“We went through the worst attack we’ve ever had in our country,” the president said of the virus which has killed more than 71,000 people in the United States.
“This is really the worst attack we’ve ever had. This is worse than Pearl Harbor. This is worse than the World Trade Center. There’s never been an attack like this,” he continued.
In total, 2,403 Americans were killed in Peal Harbor, while another 2,977 people died during the September 11 attacks.
The death toll from COVID-19 in the past two months has already exceeded the number of Americans killed in the two-decade Vietnam War, and is only expected to rise.
As he pushes to reopen the country’s flailing economy as soon as possible, Trump suggested to reporters in the Oval Office that the nation would need to accept more deaths in the process.
“We have to be warriors,” Trump told Fox News’ John Roberts. “We can’t keep our country closed down for years and we have to do something.”
“Hopefully that won’t be the case, John, but that could very well be the case.”
Asked later regarding his Pearl Harbor and 9/11 comment, whether he views coronavirus, too, as an actual act of war, Trump said, “I view the invisible enemy as a war. I don’t like how it got here, because it could have been stopped, but no, I view the invisible enemy like a war.
“Hey, it’s killed more people than Pearl Harbor. And it’s killed more people than the World Trade Center. The World Trade Center was close to 3,000. Well, we’re gonna beat that by many times, unfortunately. So, yeah. We view it as a war.
“This is a mobilization against a war. In many ways it’s a tougher enemy. We do very well against the visible enemies. It’s the invisible enemy. This is an invisible enemy. So — but we’re doing a good job.”The president has been trying to strike a solemn tone as more Americans continue to die from COVID-19 while also pushing a strong and optimistic economic message.”
In an exclusive, hour-long Oval Office interview with The Post on Monday, Trump declared “there’s a great optimism” in America and predicted a strong economic rebound from the virus at the end of this year.
The president on Wednesday also reversed his administration’s decision to shutter the coronavirus task force, saying it would be left to run “indefinitely” after he realized how popular it was.
“The task force has done a great job,” he said, a day after Vice President Mike Pence announced it would wind down by Memorial Day.
“We’ll be leaving the task force indefinitely. At a certain point it’ll end, things end, but we’ll be adding some people to the task force,” he continued, without confirming who was being considered for the roles.
“I had no idea how popular the task force is until actually yesterday when I started talking about winding it down. I get calls from very respected people saying, `I think it would be better to keep it going, it’s done such a good job,’ ” Trump said.
“It’s a respected task force. I know it myself. I didn’t know whether or not it was appreciated by the public but it is appreciated by the public.”