As Americans enter their second full week of self-isolation over the coronavirus, President Trump declared that “we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself.”
On March 16, Trump called on Americans to self-isolate in a set of guidelines titled “15 Days To Slow The Spread.” The guidelines called on people to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people for the next 15 days, avoid “eating or drinking in bars, restaurants, and food courts,” and cut back on social visits.
But millions of people are now self-quarantining and many stores have empty shelves. Businesses across the country — large and small — have been hit hard and the stock market has plunged to their worst losses in decades.
In a late-night post Sunday on Twitter, Trump said that after the 15-day period ends, the nation will need to reassess the approach to COVID-19.
“WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF. AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!” Trump wrote.
WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF. AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 23, 2020
Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard predicted that the U.S. unemployment rate could hit 30% in the second quarter, and the gross domestic product could plunge as much as 50%.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Sunday that the U.S. lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus will likely last at least 10 to 12 weeks, or until early June.
Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Mnuchin expressed confidence that actions the Trump administration is taking will shore up the economy, and he said the plans are intended to deal with “a 10-to-12-week scenario,” adding that they can be extended if need be.
“The U.S. economy is strong. We’ve stopped major parts of it, but when we get through this virus, as I’ve said, I think you’re gonna see the U.S. economy come back to the strength, we have great companies, we have great workers,” he said. “What we need to do is have a bridge to get through this. And this isn’t the financial crisis that’s gonna go on for years.”
Nearly one in four Americans, about 80 million people, have been ordered to stay home as New York, California, Illinois, Oregon, Connecticut and New Jersey have enacted statewide lockdowns.
Mnuchin also said on the show that he expects a $1.6 trillion stimulus bill to pass soon and be signed by President Trump on Monday.
The bill, under which a family of four can expect a direct, one-time payment of about $3,000, Mnuchin said, is intended to tide the U.S. economy over for 10-12 weeks.
The cost to the U.S. economy, once estimated at $1 trillion, continues to soar in projections. Mnuchin said the bill will also allow the Federal Reserve to leverage up to $4 trillion of liquidity to support the economy. The Secretary said that the measure will enable U.S. central bank to help businesses weather the next 90 to 120 days.
“We need to get the money into the economy now. If we do that, we think we can stabilize the economy,” Mnuchin said.
Mnuchin said discussion of a possible recession is not “terribly relevant” at the moment.
“When people focus on recessions, it’s normally because of a prolonged economic environment,” Mnuchin said. “This is a very unique situation that we’ve never had before. This is the government has self-imposed shutting down large parts of the economy. And as soon as we can get the medical situation under control, we’re going to reopen it.”