President Trump called out Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam for not opening up his state “fast enough” from lockdown.
Trump appeared on Fox News on Sunday evening for the “America Together: Returning to Work” town hall. The president took questions from hosts Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum and from Fox News viewers who submitted questions over social media.
“Certain states are going to have to take a little more time in getting open, and they’re doing that,” Trump responded to a question on federal standards for testing. “Some states, I think, frankly, aren’t going fast enough.”
“You have some states that, Virginia, they want to close down until the middle of June,” Trump said. “I really believe that you can go to parks, you can go to beaches … And I really think the public has been incredible. That’s one of the reasons we are successful.”
The president clarified that “successful” meant staying on the lower end of the projected potential death count from the coronavirus. The United States had documented nearly 1.2 million cases of the coronavirus and nearly 70,000 deaths by Monday morning. Trump said that total U.S. deaths from the virus could reach 80,000 or 90,000.
Northam has extended Virginia’s stay-at-home order through June 9. The governor has ordered all non-essential businesses to either close or work from home, if possible. Residents may only leave their homes for essential needs such as exercise or grocery shopping. All beaches in Virginia are closed except for exercise, while all parks remain open for day activities.
On Friday and over the weekend, thousands of people protested strict government lockdowns across the nation as the pain of keeping businesses closed and millions of people isolated continues to mount. The Department of Labor released the latest data on unemployment filings showing that roughly 30 million people have made unemployment claims in the six weeks since states began taking widespread action against the coronavirus.
States are beginning to ease restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Georgia is implementing the most aggressive plan to loosen restrictions, allowing most businesses to resume operations on April 24 as long as they followed state health department guidelines on sanitation and social distancing.
At the time, Trump had criticized Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s plan to begin reopening the state’s economy. “I told the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, that I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities,” Trump said several days before Georgia began lifting restrictions.
“I think it’s too soon, and I love the people,” Trump added. “I love those people that use all of those things, the spas, the beauty parlors, the barbershops, tattoo parlors, I love them. But they can wait a little bit longer, just a little bit — not much — because safety has to predominate.”
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