Trump says U.S. may be getting to top of coronavirus curve

By Steve Holland and Jeff Mason
U.S. President Trump leads daily coronavirus response briefing at the White House in Washington

By Steve Holland and Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said on Tuesday the United States might be getting to the top of the "curve" of the coronavirus outbreak and said he did not see an early written warning about the pandemic from a top White House aide.

The president said he was reluctant to talk about it but that the country might be on track for far fewer deaths than projected. Trump's coronavirus task force previously projected, based on models, that as many as 240,000 people in the United States could die in the pandemic.

Trump reiterated that he wanted to reopen the U.S. economy.

"We want to get it open soon, that's why I think maybe we're getting to the very top of the curve," Trump said.

The president said he had not seen memos by White House trade adviser Peter Navarro warning of coronavirus risks.

Navarro, a China hawk, sent a memo in late January warning the new coronavirus could create a pandemic and urged a travel ban for China, the New York Times reported. A second memo, written in late February and sent to the president, said it could kill up to 2 million Americans.

Trump said he had confidence in Navarro, who is overseeing issues related to the president's use of the Defense Production Act to get needed supplies.

Trump redoubled his criticism of the World Health Organization for its handling of the virus and said the United States would suspend its funding to the organization. Pressed about that decision, Trump then said he was looking at doing it rather than confirming he would follow through on the threat.

Trump said the Wisconsin Supreme Court made the right decision to allow the state's primary election to go forward on Tuesday despite health and safety concerns related to the virus.

He reaffirmed his opposition to mail-in voting, which he said leads to fraudulent votes being counted.

"I think mail-in voting is horrible," he said. "If you want to vote, you should go."

The president himself asked Florida for an absentee ballot to vote by mail in the state's Republican primary, the Palm Beach Post reported.

Wisconsin's Democratic governor, Tony Evers, ordered the state's nominating contest postponed until June despite having previously said he lacked the authority to do so.

The state Supreme Court reversed his order in a ruling late on Monday after Republican legislative leaders challenged Evers' decision.


(Reporting by Steve Holland, Diane Bartz and Jeff Mason; Editing by Peter Cooney)