The coronavirus outbreak is the "worst attack" the US has ever suffered, Donald Trump has said. Tradefair brings you the latest from US politics...
There's never been an attack like this."
- Donald Trump
Donald Trump has described the coronavirus pandemic as the "worst attack" ever on the United States, saying it will have a bigger impact than 9/11 and the bombing of Pearl Harbour in 1941.
The president also repeated his accusation that China acted too slowly to contain the outbreak and could have prevented the virus from spreading around the world. He previously said his administration was considering consequences for Beijing in response to its handling of the crisis.
There have been at least 1.2 million cases of Covid-19 in the US and more than 73,000 related deaths. The country's economy shrank by 4.8% in the first three months of this year and is expected to see an even bigger contraction in the second quarter.
An attack that 'should have never happened'
Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office of the White House on Wednesday (May 6), Trump said America is in the midst of "the worst attack we've ever had on our country".
"This is worse than Pearl Harbour, this is worse than the World Trade Centre. There's never been an attack like this," he said.
Referring to the origins of the virus, the Republican leader insisted that "it should have never happened" because it "could have been stopped at the source".
"It could have been stopped in China. It should have been stopped right at the source, and it wasn't," the president said.
When he was pressed by a reporter on whether he sees the virus outbreak as an actual act of war, he said: "I view the invisible enemy [coronavirus] 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."
Secretary of state Mike Pompeo has been one of the most vocal members of the Trump administration in criticising China, this week repeating the allegation that Beijing had covered up the severity and potential risk of the outbreak.
He claimed there is "enormous evidence" the virus originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, but this has been contradicted by experts.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a key member of the government's coronavirus taskforce, said the evidence suggests the disease "evolved in nature and then jumped species".
As the world's biggest economy continues to feel the effects of the pandemic, the Trump administration has emphasised the importance of businesses restarting and people getting back to work, even though this could result in some being "affected badly".
Speaking in Arizona, the president insisted the time has come for the economy to reopen.
"Will some people be affected? Yes. Will some people be affected badly? Yes. But we have to get our country open and we have to get it open soon," he said.
When asked about the potential repercussions of easing lockdown restrictions, particularly in terms of an increase in coronavirus-related deaths, Trump told Fox News: "Hopefully that won't be the case ... but it could very well be the case."
"We have to be warriors," he said. "We can't keep our country closed down for years."
The process of reopening the economy will now be one of the main focuses of the coronavirus taskforce, which is led by vice-president Mike Pence.
Trump had previously suggested the taskforce would soon be disbanded, but decided to change his approach after seeing "how popular" the group is.
In a series of posts on Twitter on Wednesday, the president confirmed the taskforce would now continue "indefinitely", with a focus on "safety and opening up our country again".
What's happening on Wall Street?
As well as attaching a lot of importance to the health of the economy as he targets re-election in November this year, Trump will be keeping a close eye on the stock market and how it recovers from the effects of the pandemic in the coming months.
On Wednesday this week, both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 fell for the first time in three days, as investors weighed up the prospects of states reopening against bleak economic and unemployment data.
The Dow was down by more than 218 points, or 0.9%, while the S&P 500 dropped by 0.7%. There was a brighter picture on the tech-focused Nasdaq Composite, which gained 0.7%.
Despite the one-day falls witnessed this week, Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist for Prudential Financial, told CNBC the market is "enjoying the economy opening, albeit on a phased-in schedule".
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