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President Donald Trump has blasted plans by Los Angeles County’s leaders to extend stay-at-home orders for three months, calling the the move “a death wish.”

Trump made the remarks Monday during a business roundtable of restaurant executives at the White House. He responded to comments by California restaurateur Thomas Keller, who said he had heard Los Angeles County planned to stay closed until August due to the COVID-19 pandemic

“That’s a death wish,” Trump said. “Because there’s death in both sides.”

Trump has repeatedly contended that the U.S. economy needs to reopen in the face of the pandemic. He’s said that the financial consequences from keeping businesses closed around the country will create more deaths. Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County’s public health director, told the county’s board of supervisors on May 12 that stay-at-home orders will “with all certainty” be extended for the next three months.

The Los Angeles County Dept. of Public Health reported Monday that the county has a total of 38,451 COVID-19 cases and 1,839 deaths, including 477 new cases and 18 deaths on Monday. Gov. Gavin Newsom loosened guidelines restricting some businesses — a change that could release most parts of the state from his stay-at-home order — but it’s unclear if the infection rate in Los Angeles County has dropped enough to see its overall restrictions eased.

During the same meeting Monday, Trump disclosed that he was taking daily doses of hydroxychloroquine — even though medical experts and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have questioned the drug’s efficacy and warned of potentially harmful side effects. Trump has been touting the antimalarial drug as a treatment for coronavirus, and he said Monday he’d been taking it every day for a week and a half.

“After numerous discussions he and I had regarding the evidence for and against the use of hydroxychloroquine, we concluded the potential benefit outweighed the relative risk,” Sean P. Conley, Trump’s physician, said in a White House press release.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, senior member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, has voiced skepticism about using hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for coronavirus before it could be adequately tested.

Trump has asserted he hadn’t been exposed to the virus, adding that he started taking the drug because he had heard from frontline responders who sent him letters saying they were taking it preventatively.
He said, “Here’s my evidence: I get a lot of positive calls about it.”