President Trump defends administration's response - NBC's Tom Costello reports
WASHINGTON, D.C. (KYMA, KECY/NBC News) - As the country braces for the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump is defending his administration's response.
State by state, governors are now stepping up their preparations and directions to their citizens.
In the meantime, new information from an internal government watchdog paints a devastating picture about the outbreak. NBC News' Tom Costello has the latest.
It's a new definition of our new normal..
"If back to normal means acting like there never was a coronavirus problem, I don't think that's going to happen. If you want to get to pre-coronavirus, you know, that might not ever happen in the fact that the sense that the threat is there." says Dr. Anthony Fauci of the Coronavirus Task Force.
As the nation faces a critical stretch in the battel against coronavirus...
"The next week, week and a half is going to be a big surge, the professionals tell us." said President Trump.
A new inspector general watchdog report finds hospitals nationwide are facing shortages of critical medical gear. And many states are warning hospitals will run out of vital personal protection equipment within days.
Meanwhile, many small business ownes are struggling to obtain loans promised unter the $2-trillion relief packages. Technical glitches and sheer demand have overwhelmed the Small Business Administration.
The President signaled the intial $350-billion earmarked for the new relief program may not be enough.
"We are probably going to have to add more money to this to save and keep our small business going and keep the employees of those small businesses working." said Trump.
Also overnight, South Caroline reversed course, now telling its 5,000,000 residents to stay at home or work with few exceptions. Still, eight states remain without a full "stay at home" order.
Dr. Anthony Fauci says he spoke with the governors of two of those states - Iowa and Nebraska - and he believes they have an acceptable equivalent. The President says it will be left up to the states - for now:
"They are doing what we are asking them to do without having to put the seal on it. But I will say if I thought it was necessary, I'll do it in a heartbeat." said Trump.
As most of the country enters another week of sheltering at home and social distancing, Dr. Deborah Birx, from the Coronavirus Task Force, is calling on Americans to take care of each other.
"I want everyone to take this seriously." said Dr. Birx.
Meanwhile, the New York Times is reporting, in late January, senior White House trade advisor Peter Navarro warned about the coronavirus and the looming threat to the American public.
Navarro wrote on January 29:
The statement goes on to say, "The lack of protection elevates the risk of the coronavirus evolving intoi a full-blown pandemic, imperiling the lives of millions of Americans."
That was at the same time the President was suggesting this was all a hoax. The next day the President did begin the travel restrictions on China.