- President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he wanted to have the US “opened up and just raring to go by Easter” – on April 12, in 19 days.
- That would go against the advice of top public-health experts, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, who are concerned that ending social-distancing measures too soon could exacerbate the coronavirus outbreak.
- “I cannot see that all of a sudden, next week or two weeks from now, it’s going to be over,” Fauci said on Friday. “I don’t think there’s a chance of that.”
- Earlier Tuesday, the World Health Organisation said the US could become the new epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, citing a “very large acceleration” in infections.
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President Donald Trump on Tuesday signalled that he wanted to ease up on coronavirus-related restrictions in a matter of weeks, even as his top experts say it could take months for life to go back to normal.
“I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” Trump said during a Fox News town-hall event at the White House. Easter is on April 12, in 19 days.
The Fox News host Bill Hemmer responded that it “would be a great American resurrection.”
Trump on ending social distancing: "I would love to have it opened by Easter." (That's April 12)
"That would be a great American resurrection," host Bill Hemmer replies. pic.twitter.com/G1AhP1biNI
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 24, 2020
In a second interview with Fox News later on Tuesday, when Trump was asked by Hemmer how he came up with Easter as the date for easing coronavirus restrictions, the president said, “Easter is a very special day for me.”
“Wouldn’t it be great to have all the churches full?” Trump added. “You’ll have packed churches all over our country. I think it will be a beautiful time.”
At the moment, churches across the US have moved services online due to coronavirus and calls for social distancing.
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Trump’s call to reopen the US economy goes against what his own experts have said, as well as warnings from governors on the front lines of the pandemic.
“I cannot see that all of a sudden, next week or two weeks from now, it’s going to be over. I don’t think there’s a chance of that,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US’s top expert on infectious diseases, said on Friday.
“I think we should do everything we possibly can do,” Fauci added. “I mean, in all sectors, because obviously, as I’ve said so many times, when you think you’re maybe overreacting, you probably are not acting as forcefully as you should. So as we’ve always said, we’ve got to try very much to stay ahead of the curve.”
Shortly before the Fox News town hall, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York implored Trump not to risk endangering lives by rushing to reopen the economy.
Trump on Monday said the US was not meant to be “shut down,” adding, “We are going to be opening up our country for business because our country was meant to be open.”
Cuomo said he was sympathetic to the economic consequences of keeping nonessential businesses closed but added: “If you ask the American people to choose between public health and the economy, then it’s no contest. No American is going to say, ‘Accelerate the economy at the cost of human life.’ Because no American is going to say how much a life is worth.”
Earlier Tuesday, the World Health Organisation said the US could become the new epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, citing a “very large acceleration” in infections. The US had fewer than 100 confirmed coronavirus cases on March 1, but by Tuesday afternoon it had nearly 50,000.
On March 16, the White House announced new guidelines aimed at slowing the spread of the virus, including avoiding gatherings of 10 or more people, cancelling nonessential travel, and not going out to bars and restaurants. The Trump administration said the guidelines would be in place for 15 days and then reassessed.
“It’s important for the young and healthy people to understand that while they may experience mild symptoms, they can easily spread this virus, and they will spread it indeed, putting countless others in harm’s way,” Trump said at the time.
Later in the week, Trump declared himself a “wartime president” and said the US was on “wartime footing.” But the president has since signalled that he’s growing impatient with the stringent measures to fight the pandemic that have essentially shut down major US cities and dealt a huge blow to the economy.
The president on Tuesday suggested that more people could die by suicide because of stress and anxiety about the economy than would die from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.
“You’re going to lose more people by putting a country into a massive recession or depression,” Trump said. “You’re going to lose people. You’re going to have suicides by the thousands. You’re going to have all sorts of things happen.”
Though Trump says he wants to reopen the economy, he has limited power to do so due to the 10th amendment. In other words, these decisions will largely occur at the state level and be made by governors, not the president.
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