Americans should ‘think of themselves as warriors,’ Trump says before Phoenix Honeywell tour

Credit: AJC

Caption
Donald Trump says he ‘strongly’ disagrees with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp's decision to reopen non-essential businesses.

Credit: AJC

President Donald Trump says Americans should think of themselves as “warriors” in the fight against the novel coronavirus.

Trump spoke to reporters Tuesday before boarding Air Force One for a trip to Phoenix to tour a Honeywell plant that is making N95 respirator masks.

“The people of our country should think of themselves as warriors,” Trump said. “Our country has to open.”

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Trump’s trip is designed to give the appearance of a return to normalcy as states begin to reopen after shutting down in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.

The president has stayed close to the White House since mid-March, when he declared a national emergency about the outbreak.

The trip also means a small army of advisers, logistical experts and security staff — a coterie of hundreds that includes personnel from the White House, Defense Department, Secret Service and more — will resume regularly hitting the road again and taking a measure of risk to assist Trump.

Besides Tuesday’s trip to Honeywell, Trump says he will travel soon to Ohio, to New York in June for the U.S. Military Academy graduation and to South Dakota in July for a holiday fireworks display at Mount Rushmore. Trump says he’s also eager to get back on the campaign trail, though he’s acknowledged that he might not be able to hold his signature big-stadium rallies until the final months before the Nov. 3 election.

Trump took a March 28 trip to Norfolk, Virginia, to see a Navy hospital ship off to New York and a weekend stay at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland, but has otherwise stayed in Washington since early March.

The president told reporters shortly before departing Tuesday that he had no concerns that resuming travel could expose those in his entourage to increased risk.

“Everybody traveling has been tested,” Trump said of his aides. “We have great testing and literally they’ve been tested over the last hour, and the test result comes back in five minutes.”

At a moment when public health officials have asked Americans to postpone nonessential travel to help stem the coronavirus, Trump was eager to prod a shell-shocked American electorate — reeling from the death and economic destruction wrought by the virus — to edge back to normal life.

But White House officials are also taking precautions to try to prevent Trump and Vice President Mike Pence from exposure to the virus. Honeywell workers who meet Trump on Tuesday — just like anyone else who comes in close proximity to the president and vice president — will be first required to take a rapid point-of-care test to determine if they’re carrying the virus.

“When preparing for and carrying out any travel, the White House’s operational teams work together to ensure plans to incorporate current CDC guidance and best practices for limiting COVID-19 exposure are followed to the greatest extent possible,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said.