Reid asked: “Mr. President, why haven’t you announced a plan to get 36 million unemployed Americans back to work? You are overseeing historic economic despair. What is the delay? Where is the plan?”
Trump responded, “Oh, I think we have announced a plan. We are opening up our country — just a rude person, you are. We are opening up our country, and we’re opening it up very fast. The plan is each state is opening and it is opening up very effectively, and when you see the numbers I think even you will be impressed, which is pretty hard to impress you.”
Trump had chided Reid before, when he held nightly coronavirus task force briefings that ended last month. He also abruptly ended a press briefing last week following an incident with CBS News correspondent Weijia Jiang, CNN’s Kaitlan Collins and PBS Newshour‘s Yamiche Alcindor. He also complained about the “attitude” of Reid and Jiang in a recent interview with the New York Post.
Earlier this week he lashed out at Norah O’Donnell, the anchor of CBS Evening News, over a segment that she did on 60 Minutes with coronavirus whistleblower Rick Bright.
Trump also defended hydroxychloroquine as a treatment or even prevention for coronavirus. He said that the drug has been proven to be “unbelievably effective” for malaria and lupus. “What has been determined is it doesn’t harm you,” he said. “Very powerful drug, I guess, but it doesn’t harm you. So I thought as a frontline defense — I thought it possibly would be good. I have had no impact from it. I feel the same. I haven’t changed, I don’t think, too much.”
The Food and Drug Administration warned in late April that the drug should not be taken to treat coronavirus outside a hospital setting or clinical trial, noting the risks for heart rhythm problems. The FDA has authorized emergency use when clinical trials are unavailable.
Trump on Monday said that he had been taking the drug for the past week and a half to prevent coronavirus. The president’s physician, Sean Conley, issued a note later in the day saying that he and Trump had had numerous discussions over the use of the drug, and “we concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks.”
The president also seemed to dismiss a Veterans Administration study on the use of hydroxychlorquine. that found no evidence that the drug reduced risks associated with the virus. It also found “increased overall mortality was identified in patients treated with hydroxychloroquine alone.”
Trump told reporters that “there was a false study done where they gave it to very sick people, extremely sick people, people that were ready to die. It was given by obviously not friends of the administration.” He earlier had referred to the study as a “Trump enemy statement.”
The VA analysis was published before peer review. It examined 368 patients with coronavirus in the VA health system. Those in the study were around age 70, according to Physicians Weekly.