'I'd rather die than crash the economy': Trump ultra-fans call for loosening coronavirus restrictions

Trump and his allies are eager to get the economy "raring" despite the rising number of coronavirus deaths

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Arch loyalists of Donald Trump have volunteered to risk their own health as they call for restrictions on employees and businesses to be lifted for the sake of the US economy. 

The US president has raised concerns over the economic impact of the severe public restrictions currently in place to halt the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

"Our country - it's not built to shut down," Mr Trump said on Tuesday, calling for an end to restrictions by the second week of April. "You can destroy a country this way by closing it down."  

This contradicts the advice of health professionals, who warn lifting the restrictions could increase the death toll from Covid-19. The total number of deaths from coronavirus reached around 720 by Wednesday.

However, some of Mr Trump's most ardent supporters have suggested they are willing to sacrifice their own lives to save the country's economy. 

Conservative radio host Glenn Beck, 56, told listeners on Tuesday: "I would rather have my children stay home and all of us who are over 50 go in and keep this economy going and working even if we all get sick. I’d rather die than kill the country. 'Cause it’s not the economy that’s dying, it’s the country."

On Wednesday Jesse Kelly, who hosts his own show on Houston radio station KPRC, tweeted: "If given the choice between dying and plunging the country I love into a Great Depression, I’d happily die."

Earlier in the week Dan Patrick, the lieutenant governor of Texas, said “lots of grandparents” like himself were “willing to take a chance on [their] survival in exchange for keeping” the economy running.

Mr Patrick, 69, told Fox News: “No one reached out to me and said, ‘As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’ And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in."   

The sentiment was echoed by the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, who tweeted: "Extreme measures to flatten the virus 'curve' is sensible - for a time - to stretch out the strain on health infrastructure. But crushing the economy, jobs and morale is also a health issue-and beyond. Within a very few weeks let those with a lower risk to the disease return to work."

World Health Organisation officials have said the country could become the global epicentre of the pandemic, with more than 54,000 cases reported across the US.

The governors of at least 18 states have issued stay-at-home directives affecting about half the US population of roughly 330 million people.

The closures have rocked the US economy with global markets rattled by the pandemic. However Wall Street saw gains on Wednesday after Congress and the Trump administration reached a deal for a $2 trillion stimulus package to help businesses and millions of Americans hit by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Trump said he wanted to re-open the country in less than three weeks, raising the issue of the economy again during a Fox News interview on Tuesday, in which he said he would like to see "packed" churches by Easter Sunday.

He later told reporters he would listen to recommendations from the government's top health officials.

Mr Trump's personal businesses have also been affected by the shutdown, with his five-star hotels across the US and Canada mostly empty and his golf courses in America, Scotland and Ireland are under pressure to close. His private members club Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida has already closed its doors.

"It's hurting me and it's hurting Hilton and it's hurting all of the great hotel chains all over the world," Mr Trump acknowledged over the weekend.