Q You weren’t just hoping that it would dissipate, that this would disappear.
THE PRESIDENT: I want to be positive. I don’t want to be negative. I have to — I’m a positive person. Somebody said, “Oh, I wish he’d be more negative.” They literally have that; it’s in one of the wonderful newspapers today. “I wish he’d be more negative.” Well, this is really easy to be negative about. But I want to give people hope too. You know, I’m a cheerleader for the country. We’re going through the worst thing that the country has probably ever seen.
Look, we had — the Civil War, we lost 600,000 people, right? Here’s the thing: Had we not done anything, we would have lost many times that. But we did something, and so it’s going to be, hopefully, way under that. But, you know, we lose more here potentially then you lose in World Wars as a country. So there’s nothing positive, there’s nothing great about it, but I want to give people in this country hope. I think it’s very important.
Q So you knew it was going to be this severe when you were saying, “This is under control” and —
THE PRESIDENT: I thought it could be. I knew everything. I knew it could be horrible and I knew it could be maybe good. Don’t forget, at that time, people didn’t know that much about it, even the experts. We were talking about it. We didn’t know where it was going. We saw China, but that was it. Maybe it would have stopped at China. We wish we could have killed it in China, but it didn’t happen. It started spreading to Europe. It started spreading here. It started spreading all over.
But — and I’m not blaming anybody. I’m just saying that we have an incredible thing. I think the people — our professionals, our military, our governors, our politicians — I think they’ve done an incredible job. I mean, with few exceptions, I think they’ve done an incredible job. But I don’t want to be a negative person. It’d be so much easier for me to come up and say, “We have bad news. We’re going to lose 220,000 people and it’s going to happen over the next few weeks.”
And with that, I did start off by saying today, long before this question, I said, “This is going to be a rough two or three weeks. This is going to be one of the roughest two or three weeks we’ve ever had in our country. We’re going to lose thousands of people.”
When I see 28, 29 people from the governor of New Jersey — 29 people. When you see 173 people died in New York yesterday — or whatever the number was; I think it was more than that. When you see the kind of numbers that we’re witnessing, we’ve never seen numbers like that. So, it’s easy to be negative. And then everybody can be negative, but I’m a cheerleader for our country and I want it to do a great job so the number can be kept — and I’ve always said it: I want as few a number of people to die as possible. And that’s all we’re working on.