According to The Washington Post‘s sources, President Trump has been pushing “behind closed doors” to “reopen much of the country next month,” an effort the Post notes has some health experts sounding the alarm out of fear of a possible “resurgence” of COVID-19.
“Behind closed doors, President Trump — concerned with the sagging economy — has sought a strategy for resuming business activity by May 1, according to people familiar with the discussions,” the Post reported Thursday.
“In phone calls with outside advisers, Trump has even floated trying to reopen much of the country before the end of this month, when the current federal recommendations to avoid social gatherings and work from home expire, the people said,” the Post reports. “Trump regularly looks at unemployment and stock market numbers, complaining that they are hurting his presidency and reelection prospects, the people said.”
While the Post is relying on its unnamed sources about what Trump is doing behind the scenes, what he is doing in public is clear enough: He has repeatedly expressed a desire to reopen the country as quickly as is safely possible, based on the advice of the nation’s top health experts who are informing the Coronavirus Task Force.
As The Daily Wire reported, one of the key members of that task force, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CBS on Thursday that because of the “very good job” the nation is doing on social distancing measures, it is now “very likely” that by the end of the 30-day nationwide lockdown, we will be taking important steps toward “normalization” and, by summer, will have taken “many steps in that direction.”
Later that day, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who is reportedly a member of a newly formed economy-focused task force, made a similar comment, saying we are on track to begin reopening the U.S. economy in May.
“When you say get back to ‘normal,’ it’s not going to be a light switch that you turn on and off. It’s going to be differential and gradual depending upon where you are and where the burden of infection is,” Fauci told “CBS This Morning” Thursday. “But the bottom line of it all is, that what we see looking forward, it is very likely that we will progress toward the steps toward normalization as we get to the end of this 30 days. And I think that’s going to be a good time to look and see how quickly can we make that move to try and normalize. But hopefully, and hopefully, by the time we get to the summer, we will have taken many steps in that direction.”
In an interview with Jim Cramer on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street,” Mnuchin said he could see the country beginning to reopen in May. “I think as soon as the president feels comfortable with the medical issues,” said the Treasury secretary, noting that the Trump administration is doing “everything necessary” to help American businesses be “open for business” and “have the liquidity that they need to operate their business in the interim.”
In its report on Trump’s push to reopen the economy sooner rather than later, the Post stresses that health experts are warning about the potentially “disastrous” consequences of easing restrictions prematurely, “because U.S. leaders have not built up the capacity for alternatives to stay-at-home orders — such as the mass testing, large-scale contact tracing and targeted quarantines that have been used in other countries to suppress the virus.”
A particularly influential model in the nation’s response, the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE) model, which recently twice-downgraded its fatality projections by August from around 94,000 to 82,000 then down again to 60,000, assumes widespread “lockdown”-type measures until the end of May, the Post notes.
So far, about 17 million Americans have filed for unemployment as a result of the widespread lockdowns.