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Former NATO commander on coronavirus: Trump should be ‘be listening carefully to 'medical professionals’

U.S. President Donald Trump may be considering lifting social restrictions to ease the downward pressure on the economy due to the new coronavirus, named COVID-19, but a former NATO commander is strongly advising against it.

“I think the president needs to be listening carefully to our medical professionals,” former NATO Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis said on Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade, later adding: “Once you’ve done that, then it’s perfectly appropriate to listen to the economic side.”

So far, 591 people have died of coronavirus in the U.S. (Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance)

While the White House had previously announced guidelines to slow the coronavirus, from practicing good hygiene to working from home “whenever possible,” Trump has also been increasingly pushing back against health care experts.

“This is a time when we shouldn’t operate from our gut instincts, which is what the president has a tendency to do,” Stavridis said. “Sometimes that works for him, sometimes it works less well. Here, I think we need to base our determinations on science, medicine… that’s going to require listening to the experts and following expert advice.” 

Trump v. health care experts

Trump argued that restrictions should be loosened in the coming weeks, as the U.S. economy takes a massive hit and markets are in turmoil.

“Our country wasn’t built to be shut down,” Trump told reporters on Monday. “This is not a country that was built for this. America will again and soon be open for business. Very soon. A lot sooner than three or four months that somebody was suggesting.”

On Tuesday, he pointed to Easter Sunday, April 12.

Trump has also claimed, without evidence, that an extended period of closure could result in “probably more death from that than anything that we're talking about with respect to the virus.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks as US President Donald Trump listens during the daily press briefing on the Coronavirus pandemic situation at the White House on March 17, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

His health care experts disagree. 

“If you look at the trajectory of the curves of outbreaks and other areas, at least going to be several weeks,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on March 20. “I cannot see that all of a sudden, next week or two weeks from now, it’s going to be over. I don’t think there’s a chance of that.”

Aarthi is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. She can be reached at aarthi@yahoofinance.com. Follow her on Twitter @aarthiswami

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