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Top White House Official Says Stay-At-Home Measures Could Kill More People ‘Indirectly’ Than Coronavirus
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 27: White House Trade and Manufacturing Policy Director Peter Navarro speaks during a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic in the press briefing room of the White House on March 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump signed the H.R. 748, the CARES Act on Friday afternoon. Earlier in the day, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the $2 trillion stimulus bill that lawmakers hope will battle the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A top White House official said Sunday that more Americans could die “indirectly” from the stay-at-home orders enacted in order to stem the spread of COVID-19 than from the virus itself.

Peter Navarro, who serves in the Trump administration as assistant to the president, director of trade and manufacturing policy, and the national Defense Production Act policy coordinator, said President Trump is right to urge governors to reopen their states.

“Opening up this economy is not a question of lives versus jobs,” Navarro said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“President Trump realized early on that if you lock people down, you may save lives directly from the China virus, but you indirectly are going to kill a lot more people,” Navarro said.

More than 36 million Americans have lost their jobs during the virus panic as governors shut down all businesses they deemed “nonessential.” Millions have missed rent and mortgage payments, and a bunch of states plan to stay shut down until the end of May, with several planning lockdowns into June.

Navarro has made clear who’s to blame. “Yes, I do blame the Chinese,” Navarro said on ABC’s “This Week,” adding that China will be responsible for what he called a “Chinese winter” of global death and misery.

Navarro also blamed the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for not getting ahead of the virus. “Early on, the CDC, which really had the most trusted brand around the world in this space, really let the country down with the testing,” Navarro said on NBC.

The White House adviser also accused China of a plot to “seed” the coronavirus globally by sending sick travelers around the world, all the while denying that the virus was a serious danger.

“I did not say they deliberately did it, but their China virus — let’s go over the facts here. Correct me if I’m wrong,” said Navarro. “The virus was spawned in Wuhan province. Patient zero was in November. The Chinese, behind the shield of the World Health Organization, for two months hid the virus from the world, and then sent hundreds of thousands of Chinese on aircraft to Milan, New York, and around the world to seed that. They could have kept it in Wuhan. Instead, it became a pandemic. So, that’s why I say the Chinese did that to Americans and they are responsible.”

Navarro also shot down George Stephanopoulos’ claim that “lost weeks” in February set back the U.S. response to the virus:

So, first of all, I think it’s great that we have a president that can get along with all world leaders, so that’s number one. But number two, there’s no lost weeks. This starting gun for the China pandemic started on January 30th when President Trump had the courage to pull down the flights from China, that was an enormously courageous decision. He took a lot of heat from that.

And from that day, and I was personally involved in a lot of this, we were moving on three vectors on attack in February — vaccine development, development of therapeutics like Remdesivir, and building up the capacity for things like N95 masks. And the work we did throughout February has borne beautiful fruit here in the spring, because what we saw on Friday in the Rose Garden was the announcement of a 14-company race to a vaccine, with the goal of December, what we have seen therapeutics like Remdesivir already going into hospitals right now to save American lives and we had company like Honeywell building two factories in five weeks, George, instead of nine months, five weeks, that’s Trump time, to produce 20 million N95 masks a month.

So don’t tell me we lost February, because I was there. I’m right here. And this president was directing us to move as quickly as possible, even as publicly we were trying to figure out in the fog of war just how serious this pandemic.

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