WHITE HOUSE – U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday placed more pressure on states to reopen for business despite continuing concerns about the coronavirus.
“I don’t think people are going to stand for it” in states that do not resume normal activities quickly, the president told reporters as he toured a Michigan automotive plant repurposed to produce ventilators for COVID-19 patients.
All 50 states have announced plans to reopen at least partially following shutdowns that have crippled the American economy.
If there is a second wave of the coronavirus, “we’re not closing our country,” Trump vowed.
In a speech to the workers at Ford Motor Co.’s Rawsonville Components Plant, the president said, “a permanent lockdown is not a strategy for a healthy state or a healthy country.”
The country is poised “for an epic comeback,” the president said.
In the past nine weeks, 38.6 million Americans have applied for jobless benefits.
Earlier at the Ford plant in Ypsilanti, during what was billed as a “listening session” with African American leaders, the president said, “We got to get our churches open, we got to get our country open.”
Trump, who said he had seen video of congregants trying to break into their own churches so that they could worship, added that he had spoken with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about guidance on churches.
“I said you better put it out and they’re doing it, and they’re going to be issuing something today or tomorrow, and churches are going to get our churches open,” Trump said.
On his tour of the plant, the president was accompanied by the automaker’s top officials, including Executive Chairman Bill Ford. All wore both masks and goggles.
The president said he briefly wore a mask and goggles in the factory, but “I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it.”
He displayed a navy blue mask with the presidential seal and said that because he was about to give a speech, he did not want to continue keeping it over his mouth.
“Face masks are required to be worn by everyone, in all facilities, at all times,” the company had said in a statement before the president’s visit.
The company subsequently issued a statement saying that “Bill Ford encouraged President Trump to wear a mask when he arrived.He wore a mask during a private viewing of three Ford GTs from over the years.The president later removed the mask for the remainder of the visit.”
During remarks to plant workers, the president called for pharmaceuticals and medical supplies to be produced domestically, again blaming the pandemic on China.
“We’re bringing our medicines back,” Trump said. “We cannot rely on foreign nations to take care of us, especially in times of difficulty.”
According to the White House, the public-private partnership developed by Trump’s administration “has produced 12 billion gloves, 130+ million N95 masks, half a billion surgical masks, nearly 18 million face shields, and made the United States ‘King of Ventilators.’ “
The president also said Thursday that despite the coronavirus pandemic, plans are under way for the United States to host a Group of Seven leaders summit next month.
“If we do the G-7, when that all comes together, probably it will be in D.C. at the White House,” Trump told reporters before leaving for Michigan. “But there could be a piece of it at Camp David, which is nearby.”
It is unclear if the six other leaders have agreed to attend what would certainly be a scaled-down summit. Such events usually include hundreds of accompanying officials and journalists.
Trump, however, spoke of a “full G-7” and said details would be announced next week.
The United States has the most reported COVID-19 cases of any country, more than 1.5 million, and about 94,000 deaths from the disease.