President Trump said Tuesday that he hopes to have the U.S. economy reopened in less than three weeks.
“I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” Trump said on a Fox News town hall from the White House Rose Garden. Easter falls on April 12.
Trump has expressed increasing frustration in recent days over the economic impact of the virus and measures enacted to slow its spread. He has warned repeatedly that the damage being done to the economy could be worse that the threat from the virus. On Tuesday morning he tweeted:
“Our people want to return to work. They will practice Social Distancing and all else, and Seniors will be watched over protectively & lovingly. We can do two things together. THE CURE CANNOT BE WORSE (by far) THAN THE PROBLEM! Congress MUST ACT NOW. We will come back strong!”
Asked on Monday if he would go against the advice of public health officials, Trump said: “If it was up to the doctors they might say shut down the entire world.”
Experts disagree: Public health experts have warned that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is still to come — and that restrictions on Americans’ activity may need to stay in place far longer to help contain the outbreak. They have also warned that prematurely loosening social distancing guidelines and other restrictions could undercut efforts to fight the virus and be disastrous for hospitals and health care providers. And some experts have suggested that the economy won’t be able to truly recover until the country resolves the worst of the public health threat.
“We haven’t yet even seen signs that the growth is slowing, much less reversing. Now is the time to tighten restrictions on contacts that could transmit the virus, not loosen them,” Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiology professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of Harvard’s Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, told The Washington Post. “If we let up now we can be virtually certain that health care will be overwhelmed in many if not all parts of the country. This is the view of every well-informed infectious epidemiologist I know of.”
Bill Gates calls for a shutdown: On a program hosted by TED conferences Tuesday, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said the country still needs to close up shop. “The U.S. is past this opportunity to control [Covid-19] without shutdown. We did not act fast enough to have an ability to avoid the shutdown. It’s January when everybody should’ve been on notice.”
But Trump has supporters: Yet Trump is far from alone in pushing for some parts of the economy to reopen quickly, with some Republican lawmakers and other expressing similar desires. Lloyd Blankfein, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, tweeted Sunday that “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.”