President Donald Trump signaled on Monday, and again on Tuesday, that he hopes to allow a “cautious” resumption of normal economic activity for parts of the nation soon, perhaps as soon as the end of March or mid-April, The Hill reported.
The American economy has largely been shut down or substantially limited over the past few weeks as the nation attempts to slow the spread of the new coronavirus pandemic. But the accompanying economic contraction has many worried that the cost of shutting down for a lengthy period could be worse than the disease itself.
“Our country wasn’t built to be shut down”
At the start of the coronavirus task force briefing at the White House on Monday, President Trump said, “America continues to mobilize every segment of our society to turn the tide in the battle against the virus. I want Americans to know that we will get through this challenge. The hardship will end; it will end soon. Normal life will return. And our economy will rebound very, very strongly.”
“Our public health experts, who are terrific, are studying the variation in the disease across the country, and we will be using data to recommend new protocols to allow local economies to cautiously resume their activity at the appropriate time,” he continued.
“Our country wasn’t built to be shut down. This is not a country that was built for this. It was not built to be shut down,” the president added a moment later.
“We can do two things at one time”
“America will again, and soon, be open for business — very soon — a lot sooner than three or four months that somebody was suggesting. A lot sooner,” President Trump said. “We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself. We’re not going to let the cure be worse than the problem.”
He noted that the 15-day period his administration had announced in mid-March — during which everyone is strongly urged to stay at home and practice social distancing if out and about for essential purposes — will be coming to an end next week. At that time, in consultation with his assembled team of experts, the situation will be reassessed and a decision made on whether to extend that period or begin to relax the restrictions where possible.
Trump acknowledged that things could be “very bad” during the interim in terms of the rising numbers of infections and deaths; however, he also pointed out that some parts of the nation are far less impacted than others. “We’re going to be opening our country up for business because our country was meant to be open and working with others, but especially for our workers,” the president reiterated.
Asked by a reporter to reconcile those two views — that things could get worse but people needed to get back to work soon — Trump said, “We can do two things at one time,” and spoke of finding a balance between continuing to practice safe social distancing while allowing as many people as possible to get back to work.
By Easter Sunday?
President Trump reiterated his message once again with a tweet on Tuesday, writing, “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!”
Also on Tuesday, during a virtual town hall event on the coronavirus with Fox News, Trump indicated that he is setting a goal of Easter Sunday, April 12, as a target date for beginning to re-open businesses and allowing workers to return to their jobs, if possible and in conjunction with continued social distancing and other limitations where necessary to guard against further spread of the disease.
Whether or not “America reopens” by Easter, it’s comforting to know that we have a president in the White House who already has a great track record on the economy, and who will prioritize getting America back to work. We’re going to need a lot more of that kind of leadership as we recover.