Italian prime minister thanks Trump for support, loyalty amid coronavirus crisis

The prime minister of Italy thanked President Donald Trump on Sunday for supporting his country through the coronavirus pandemic.

Giuseppe Conte expressed his gratitude to Trump and the United States on this week’s episode of NBC’s Meet The Press, according to the Washington Examiner, admitting to host Chuck Todd: “In these difficult times, I can openly say that American President Trump once more has proven to be Italy’s true and loyal friends. I want to thank President Trump, who immediately made us feel his support, his presence, and I am very grateful to American people for this.”

Trump’s response

Conte’s praise strikes a contrast with the response of many in the American media, who have largely focused blame on the commander-in-chief for COVID-19’s devastation in the United States. Journalists and Democrats in Washington alike have claimed that Trump failed to take the virus seriously and curtail its impact in the early stages, with a common complaint being that Trump has been slow to use the federal government to provide key medical supplies.

Trump said last week that America will send extra medical equipment to Italy, and then France and Spain, the AFP reported, a move that comes as the coronavirus has fueled speculation about a re-shuffling of the world order. China has sought to deflect blame for the outbreak, which originated in its borders, and elevate its global status by sending doctors and medical equipment to hard-hit states like Italy, but various countries have complained that China’s equipment is defective.

“We’re going to be sending approximately $100 million worth…of surgical and medical and hospital things to Italy,” Trump said on March 30, according to AFP, adding that Conte was “very, very happy, I will tell you that.”

A glimmer of hope

The number of deaths from the coronavirus in America passed 10,000 Monday, according to USA Today, just a day after the president and his virus response team urged Americans to prepare for days of tragedy that will recall the horrors of Pearl Harbor and the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. With the peak of the outbreak days away in the U.S., Italians are still on lockdown nearly a month after the country ordered a national quarantine on March 9.

Still, Italy’s number of new cases dropped again Monday, according to CNBC, even as the death toll surpassed 16,500, more than any nation in the world. The news came a day after Italy had recorded its lowest death toll in weeks, spurring hopes that the peak could soon be past, according to an Associated Press report.

Similar projections that the virus is slowing in France and Spain have lifted hopes in hard-hit southern Europe, CNBC notes, and Austria became the first nation on Monday to announce that it plans to ease lockdown restrictions. Italy, for its part, has no plans currently to ease its lockdowns, which will continue until at least April 13, according to Reuters.

The big picture

While Conte praises Trump, his country has said that the European Union is not doing enough to help, and they have joined Spain in calling on the trading bloc to share debt with “Eurobonds,” a scheme that has been rejected by Germany and the Netherlands, Reuters noted. Still, Conte struck a cooperative tone Sunday while making clear he would appreciate a common European effort to finance a recovery.

“As the Italian government, I invite all its European partners to approve a European recovery and reinvestment plan,” Conte told Todd, according to a transcript from RealClearPolitics. “It’s an ambitious common plan to rebuild the European economy to be financed through European recovery bonds.”

This all comes as many in the media seek to pin the blame on President Trump for the pandemic, and as Trump takes increasingly aggressive actions to mobilize the production of supplies under the Defense Production Act. While the president feuds with governors over shortages in supplies, many media outlets have driven the story that governors who cooperate with Trump, like California’s Gavin Newsom (D), are under pressure to flatter the president.

Tell that to Italy. The media has lost the plot on this one.

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