President Donald Trump should impose a nationwide order that requires Americans to stay in their homes as much as possible, says Democratic Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, urging Trump to sharply escalate the U.S. response to the new coronavirus outbreak.
Lamont announced on Friday an order for his state that requires all nonessential businesses to close and recommends that residents maintain social distancing and limit outdoor activities — a stay-at-home measure similar to those that, as of Monday, have been announced by at least eight other states, including New York and California.
But a patchwork of state measures is not enough to adequately contain coronavirus, or COVID-19, Lamont said in a newly released interview on “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” taped on March 20.
“I'd like the federal government to set a clear direction on the rules of the road,” Lamont says. “Having everybody stay at home for the next few weeks, when this thing is raging, when it's most contagious, makes very good sense.”
Asked by Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer whether Trump should impose a nationwide shelter-in-place order, Lamont says, “I think the president should.”
‘We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem’
One week ago, Trump issued guidelines that kicked off what he described as a 15-day effort to contain the outbreak, including the recommendation that Americans avoid gatherings of 10 or more people. On Sunday night, he expressed reluctance to take more restrictive action and said the federal government will reevaluate after its initial 15-day effort set to end on March 30.
“We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself,” Trump tweeted in all capital letters. “At the end of the 15 day period, we will make a decision as to which direction we want to go!”
As the adverse economic impact of the coronavirus comes into view, Trump is concerned about the effect of measures that shut down large amounts of business activity, Vanity Fair reported on Monday, citing unnamed sources. He is frustrated with governors and public health officials who’ve backed such measures, the article says.
Conservative economists Stephen Moore and Art Laffer have urged the White House to cut back recommendations for the closure of gathering places like restaurants and stores, the Washington Post reported on Monday. Former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein on Sunday advocated for a loosening of some restrictions that damage the U.S. economy within a few weeks.
“Extreme measures to flatten the virus ‘curve’ is sensible - for a time - to stretch out the strain on health infrastructure,” tweeted Blankfein. “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.
On Monday, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose to more than 41,500, as the worldwide total surpassed 365,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of people with the disease in the U.S. has grown dramatically since March 1, when there were roughly 100 confirmed cases.
Among the states that have issued stay-at-home orders are Ohio and Indiana, helmed by Republican governors Mike DeWine and Eric Holcomb, respectively. In total, at least 20% of the U.S. population lives under an order that says they should stay at home as much as possible, The New York Times reported on Friday.
Since the coronavirus can spread across state boundaries, Americans shouldn’t think about it as an issue that impacts some states but not others, Lamont says.
“If your community, your state is less infected now,” he says. “This contagion is spreading fast, and it comes across borders very quickly. Don't think in terms of states — think in terms of regions.”
Lamont made the remarks during a conversation that aired in an episode of Yahoo Finance’s “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.
Since he took office at the outset of last year, Lamont has signed legislation set to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour as well as another measure set to guarantee family and medical leave. One week ago, he joined New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in a coordinated regional effort to limit gatherings to 50 people or less and close gyms, movie theaters, and casinos.
“There's too much confusion right now,” Lamont says of the decision to delay the primary. “There's too much contagion.”
“I spent 20 years urging people to vote,” he adds. “I didn't want to have to spend this election urging people not to vote.”