Trump horrifies viewers as he says he wants to see 'packed churches' soon while a pandemic rages on

Trump horrifies viewers as he says he wants to see 'packed churches' soon while a pandemic rages on
President Donald J. Trump participates in a virtual Fox News Town Hall with interviewer Bill Hemmer Tuesday, March 24, 2020, in the Rose Garden of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Even as calls grow for stricter national measures to help contain the surging coronavirus pandemic sweeping the United States, President Donald Trump on Tuesday said that he thinks it would be "beautiful" to see the nation's churches packed for Easter Sunday less than three weeks from now—the latest in a series of troubling statements that betray the dire warnings from public health experts and frontline medical workers.

Ahead of the formal press briefing with the Coronavirus Task Force at the White House on Tuesday evening, the president earlier participated in a televised town hall event with Fox News—his favorite right-wing cable network.

The town hall itself was denounced by CNN's in-house media critic Brian Stelter as the "Fox News Presidency at its very worst," complete with rosy scenarios about the virus by Trump who said he wants to get "people back to work" by Easter Sunday, which falls next month on April 12—just nineteen days away.

In response to that comment, Fox News' Bill Hemmer said it might seen as a "great American resurrection" if workers were sent back to work and restrictions lifted by the Christian holy day:

"Easter is a very special day for me," Trump later responded to Hemmer when asked to explain why he thought Easter would be a good deadline—despite the warnings from public health officials—to lift national restrictions.

"I saw wouldn't it be great to have all of the churches full—you know the churches aren't allowed to have much of a congregation there. And most of them, I watched on Sunday online—and it was terrific, by the way—but online is never going to be like being there. So I think Easter Sunday and you'll have packed churches all over our country—I think it will be a beautiful time. And it's just about the timeline that I think is right."

Critics found the comments horrifying.

"Trump is excited about the prospect of packed churches for Easter Sunday," said political commentator Joshua Potash. "At this point you have to wonder if he wants people to die."

The president's latest statements came just hours after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressed frustration with the failed response of the Trump administration, demanding to know "where are the ventilators" for his state—now the epicenter of the national outbreak. With New York's case count doubling every three days at this point, Cuomo said the urgency for action is intensifying, not lessening.

In his critique of both Trump and the Fox reporters involved in Tuesday's town hall event, Stelter said it was "pathetic" for the president to continue providing misleading information about the outbreak to the American people and a "failure" for journalists to enable it:

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