Trump reopen businesses in a matter of weeks.
President Trump on Tuesday said he hopes to have the country’s economy back up and running by Easter — Sunday, April 12 — his most concrete goal to date for easing off restrictions meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Trump in a Fox News virtual town hall doubled down on his push to reopen businesses in a matter of weeks in order to reinvigorate the U.S. economy amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“It’s not built to shut down. Our people are full of vim and vigor and energy. They don’t want to be locked in a house or an apartment or some space,” Trump said during a Fox News town hall Tuesday afternoon.
“You can destroy a country this way, by closing it down, where it literally goes from being the most prosperous,” Trump said, remarking on the strength of the U.S. economy just three weeks ago before the coronavirus started to have severe impacts in the United States.
“I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” Trump later added.
The president on Tuesday repeatedly invoked the common influenza to justify his thinking, arguing the country is not “turned off” because of the thousands of deaths from that disease. But public health experts, including those working on the White House coronavirus task force, have warned the diseases are not analogous and that the coronavirus is significantly more contagious.
Trump appeared to argue that the alternative of letting the country sink to a major recession or depression is worse.
The stock market has plummeted in recent weeks due to fears over the virus impacting trade and businesses. Nonessential businesses across the country have been ordered to close for weeks to try to limit the spread of the virus, sending unemployment skyrocketing and fostering uncertainty for small business owners.
There were more than 46,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. as of Tuesday afternoon, and more than 500 confirmed deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Both numbers have been increasing daily.
Trump a day earlier signaled he was ready to begin the transition back to normal life sooner than later, even as the coronavirus spreads across the country and governors nationwide impose stricter measures to keep citizens from leaving their homes.
Trump said Monday his task force would consider ways to “allow local economies to cautiously resume their activity at the appropriate time” after the end of a 15-day period during which the administration urged Americans nationwide to avoid restaurants and bars, limit nonessential travel and keep in-person gatherings to 10 people or less.
He suggested the time for workers to return to their jobs was a matter of weeks, not months, even as lawmakers and public health experts warn the virus could remain a problem into the summer.
“We can socially distance ourselves and go to work,” he said Tuesday, adding that workers can wash their hands more frequently or stop shaking hands to try and limit the spread of the virus.
Trump’s comments come after days of advisers debating internally over how to balance the need to stamp out the virus with aggressive social distancing measures with the desire to boost the economy. The decision has been complicated by the looming election, where Trump’s stewardship of both the economy and the response to the virus will play a key role in his bid for a second term.
The president’s comments on Tuesday made clear he is attempting to strike that balance, but is leaning toward prioritizing the economy.
Larry Kudlow, the chairman of the National Economic Council, told reporters earlier Tuesday that the administration could seek to target regions where the virus is less prevalent, building on similar assertions made by Trump the day prior.
But some advisers and Republican lawmakers have warned of potentially disastrous consequences if Americans return to work and begin ignoring public health guidance to limit the spread of the virus.
“There will be no normally functioning economy if our hospitals are overwhelmed and thousands of Americans of all ages, including our doctors and nurses, lay dying because we have failed to do what’s necessary to stop the virus,” Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), a member of House GOP leadership, tweeted Tuesday.