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Trump says coronavirus to peak ‘around Easter,’ slams Pelosi criticism in ‘Fox & Friends’ interview

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President Trump, in an extensive interview Monday with “Fox & Friends,” predicted coronavirus cases in the U.S. will likely peak “around Easter” as he defended his administration’s decision to extend strict social distancing guidelines through the end of April – suggesting millions of lives could be saved by the measures.

The president also slammed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in response to her charge on Sunday that people are dying as he “fiddles.”

PELOSI SAYS TRUMP HAS DOWNPLAYED CORONAVIRUS

“She’s a sick puppy, in my opinion,” Trump said.

The president, bristling at Pelosi’s characterization, argued that the measures being taken are in fact saving lives.

“We’re doing a lot of things and we don’t want to [ease restrictions] too soon,” Trump said. “Around Easter, that’s going to be the highest point, we think.”

Trump added: “We think April 30 is a day where we can see some real progress. And we expect to see that, short of June 1, we think the death, it’s a terrible thing to say, will be brought to a very low number.”

The president’s comments on “Fox & Friends” come after he extended the administration’s social-distancing guidelines through April 30.

Earlier this month, Trump and the White House Coronavirus Task Force introduced the initial guidelines, titled “15 days to slow the spread,” which detailed social-distancing rules to limit social gatherings, minimize person-to-person contact and urge millions of Americans to stay at home as much as possible. Those guidelines were slated to expire Monday.

TRUMP EXTENDS SOCIAL DISTANCING GUIDELINES THROUGH END OF APRIL

The president also had stirred controversy by floating the possibility of reopening shuttered businesses and easing restrictions generally by Easter. His announcement Sunday made clear that he is no longer considering that course.

On Monday, he said the guidance he received from top health officials was that between 1.6 million and 2.2 million people could have died without restrictions, even as they lead to enormous economic strain for those who have been laid off in response to business closures. Trump described these steps as necessary.

“If we didn’t do anything, 2.2 million people could have died,” Trump said on “Fox & Friends.”

“The worst thing we can do is declare victory … and then not have victory,” Trump continued. “We’re at war, this is war.”

The president spoke at a time when the U.S. has overtaken every other country in terms of reported coronavirus cases, with the number of deaths also spiking in recent days. As of Monday morning, more than 2,500 people in the U.S. have died, among more than 143,000 cases reported.

Trump suggested that the high number of cases could be due in part to increased testing, saying, “We test more than anybody else.”

He also said the U.S. has a “very low mortality rate” compared with other countries. Trump further said that new testing that produces quick results could be ready as early as this week.

The president, meanwhile, continued to wage a political battle with Pelosi, after the House speaker slammed him Sunday on CNN.

She had said his “denial at the beginning was deadly, his delaying of equipment…to where it is needed is deadly, and now the best thing would be to do is prevent more loss of life, rather than open things up so that, because we just don’t know.”

“As the president fiddles, people are dying,” Pelosi said. “We just have to take every precaution.”

The president hit back Monday, saying “there’s something wrong with the woman.”

“All she did for the first long time was impeach, impeach, impeach,” Trump said. “That’s all she did. She’s controlled by the radical left, by AOC plus 3, for her to make a statement like that, I think it’s a disgrace, to her country and her family.”

“She focused on impeachment and she lost, and she looked like a fool,” he said.

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