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Trump says government working with private sector to fight coronavirus

Updated March 30, 2020 - 5:36 pm

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump displayed a new “point of care” COVID-19 test, which he described as a game-changer in the war on coronavirus, as he trotted out other examples where the administration is working with the private sector to make up for shortages of ventilators and protective medical gear.

My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell attended the press briefing held in the Rose Garden, saying his goal was to produce 50,000 cotton face masks each day by Friday, characteristically pitching them to the Review-Journal as “the most comfortable mask you’ll ever own.”

Asked whether the coronavirus task force was considering a recommendation that Americans wear face masks in public, Trump said it was a possibility. “I could see something like that happening for a period of time. But I would hope it would be a very limited period of time,” Trump said.

Doing so would clash with Surgeon General Jerome Adams’ advice, offered via Twitter in February: “Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS!

“They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!”

The idea was broached in the report “Road Map to Reopening,” published by the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, and authored in part by Scott Gottlieb, who ran the Food and Drug Administration early in the Trump administration.

Initially, as government officials try to slow the spread of the outbreak, “… everyone, including people without symptoms, should be encouraged to wear nonmedical fabric face masks while in public.”

Later, the report says, hospitals in the first states to see a reduction in cases for 14 days should be able to treat all patients with symptoms and have enough tests for everyone showing coronavirus symptoms. Only then should those states ease restrictions on social gathering and businesses and begin to reopen schools.

Other suggestions in the document, which Trump said was on his desk, include using GPS in cellphones to enforce home isolation for new cases of COVID-19 and monitoring of individuals who had close contact with people confirmed to have the disease.

“GPS, that’s a very severe idea,” Trump responded when asked about it. “What happens? A siren goes off if you get too close to somebody?”

Contact Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7391. Follow @ DebraJSaunders on Twitter.

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