During a stay home if they are sick.with Fox News, President Trump said he believes people infected with the novel coronavirus may get better "by sitting around and even going to work." The statement garnered widespread backlash on Twitter, as the recently urged employees to
In the phone interview with Sean Hannity, Mr. Trump said he doesn't believe the death rate from the new coronavirus is as high as 3.4%, the rate stated by World Health Organization (WHO) director general on Wednesday. Other studies have estimated the mortality rate at or , depending on how many people with mild or no symptoms get counted.
"Well I think the 3.4% is really a false number," the president said. "Now, this is just my hunch, and, but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this — because a lot of people will have this and it's very mild." Top U.S. health officials said in a briefing Thursday morning that they also believe the 3.4% figure is too high, and that the actual rate is lower.
Mr. Trump went on to say that in many cases, "They'll get better very rapidly, they don't even see a doctor, they don't even call a doctor."
"So if, you know, we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better, just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work, some of them go to work, but they get better," he said.
So far, almost 97,000 people in 81 countries around the world have been infected, and over 3,300 people have died. There have been at least 12 deaths in the United States.
When critics pounced on his "going to work" remark, Mr. Trump attempted to clarify on Twitter: "I NEVER said people that are feeling sick should go to work," he wrote Thursday morning. "This is just more Fake News and disinformation put out by the Democrats..."
Many, including medical professionals, took to Twitter to push back against what the president said on Fox News.
"Am a doctor. Don't go to work with Coronavirus," wrote Dr. Kathie Allen, who describes herself as a family physician from California in her Twitter bio. "Don't listen to Stupid."
"It's extremely irresponsible and dangerous for Trump to say that people with mild symptoms of the coronavirus can get better just by going to work," said Dr. Eugene Gu on Twitter. "They can transmit the coronavirus to their coworkers, some of whom may have chronic medical conditions and suffer bad complications."
"As a general rule, you shouldn't trust what President Trump says," tweeted Congressman John Yarmuth, a Democrat from Kentucky. "With the coronavirus, it could be dangerous to your health. Don't go to work if you are sick."
Celebrities also took to Twitter to express their frustration with his statement.
"Trump supporters: your president just suggested people who have tested positive for the Coronavirus can still go to work and get better there. Go with god," said comedian Chelsea Handler.
"Stop. Just stop," wrote George Takei on Twitter, attaching an article detailing Mr. Trump's statements.
"Oh my God. Is this an impeachable offense?" tweeted actress Alyssa Milano with a video of the interview.
Meanwhile, the disease's impact on everyday life is mounting. Some of America's biggest corporations have told employees in West Coast offices to work from home. The United Nations education agency UNESCO said more than 290 million children were out of school around the world due to closures in more than 20 countries.
an $8.3 billion emergency supplemental spending bill to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. The bill now heads to Mr. Trump's desk for his signature.
Kathryn Watson contributed reporting.