President Trump wants the country back to normal by Easter Sunday. That is just over two weeks away.
“We have to go back to work. Our people want to go back to work,” Trump said during a Fox News coronavirus virtual town hall in the Rose Garden today.
Despite medical experts stating that this could further spread the virus, Trump believes his timeline would work.
“I think it’s possible, why isn’t it? I mean, we’ve never closed the country before and we’ve had some pretty bad [flus] and we’ve had some pretty bad viruses,” he said.
Trump said it would be possible to reopen the country this quickly if all the current precautions of social-distancing, handwashing and limited work interactions continued to be practiced once most people head back to work.
Trump was joined by Vice President Mike Pence and two other members of the coronavirus taskforce, Dr. Deborah Birx and Surgeon General Jerome Adams in what has become a daily address to the nation regarding the Administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has sickened over 399,500 people in 166 countries with 17,902 reported fatalities.
Some medical experts and high ranking republicans were quick to voice their disagreement to allowing millions of people to return to the workforce in two weeks while the pace of infection was rapidly increasing nationwide.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, offered caution in reaching for a fixed time to loosen restrictions regarding social-distancing.
“You can look at a date but you’ve got to be very flexible .. and evaluate the feasibility of what you’re trying to do,’ he said during today’s press briefing.
Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a House Republican leader, warned that trying to jumpstart the economy again too soon could prove disastrous, overwhelming an already stretched healthcare system with overcrowding at hospitals and overworked healthcare workers.
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. https://t.co/AchwfXtuLi
— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) March 24, 2020
Meanwhile in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressed his frustration with the Trump administration for sending only 400 ventilators to New York, the current epicenter of the disease, when the state needs thousands right away. Dr. Birx confirmed that 60 percent of all new cases were now originating in New York City and recommends anyone who has visited the metro area recently to immediately self-quarantine for 14 days.
The US currently has almost 50,000 people who have tested positive for the disease with half of that amount in New York State alone. Nationwide, 615 deaths have resulted from the respiratory complications caused by the virus.
Medical personnel, delivery persons and food suppliers are the only ones encouraged to go to work. While many people have lost or are about to lose their jobs, health experts say this ongoing limited interaction is the only way to “flatten the curve” of the disease so not to overwhelm healthcare resources.
But President Trump thinks the country can do both – get back to work and flatten the curve by practicing the White House-issued 15-day guidelines to slow the spread of the disease which include aggressive hand washing and not shaking hands.
Mike Pence said at no point did the task force consider a nationwide lockdown or a federal stay-at-home order as is currently being enforced by governors. President Trump agreed that a prolonged lockdown is not economically viable, that the “country is not built to be shut down” and “many, many people” agree with him to restart the economy back up as soon as possible.
When asked about the risk of reopening the economy so soon and the potential harm people may suffer as a result, Trump alluded to potential suicide rates climbing if he doesn’t do so.
“Many more people will die if we allow this to continue,” he said. “If we delay this thing out, you’re going to lose more people than you’re losing with the situation as you know it [now].”