WH Trade adviser says 'economic disruptions kill as well' amid coronavirus criticism

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White House Trade Adviser Peter Navarro argued on Saturday that while the coronavirus "directly" killed people, economic disruptions cost lives too.

"We know for a fact that the virus kills directly. We know for a fact that shutting down our economy has destroyed jobs," he told Fox News host Neil Cavuto.

"It's caused enormous stock market wealth loss, which goes into pension funds. We know that it’s doing tremendous economic damage but the more subtle problem which is a serious problem that comes into the calculus, Neil is the fact that economic disruptions kill as well."

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Navarro's comments came as President Trump faced accusations that he was trying to reopen America's economy too early, potentially widening the virus' impact and costing more American lives.

While it's unclear what the full economic impact will be, at least 22 million people -- more than 13 percent of the workforce -- have filed unemployment claims in recent weeks.

Navarro added that when China pulled out of the midwest, it created a host of social problems.

"We learned that when China wiped out a lot of our factories in the midwest, we saw dramatic rise in suicide rates, death to opioids, death to alcoholism, death to co-morbidity increases to things like diabetes," he said."

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"We also saw a sharp blow from the China shock then to the family structure. We saw more divorces, we saw more children in poverty -- so when the president has been grappling with this whole issue of when to get the economy back, it’s a decision that no president should have to make.

"It’s probably the toughest decision any president has to make but the people themselves, boots on the ground now, are understanding this tension between the death and destruction that the China virus can cause directly and the death and destruction the China virus can cause indirectly by shutting down our economy."

While Trump has emphasized the need to reopen the economy, he also criticized Georgia's Republican governor for moving too fast in that direction.

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"I told the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, that I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities which are in violation of the Phase I guidelines for the incredible people of Georgia," Trump said.

The White House previously released a multi-step plan guiding state on how to reopen their economy. It specifically recommends reaching certain benchmarks, like a consistent decline in new infections, before reopening the economy.