President Donald Trump suggested Sunday he could soon end coronavirus-related restrictions if he determines they are doing more harm than good.
In a late-night tweet, Trump said the “cure” cannot be allowed to be worse than the disease. He said his administration would reevaluate its approach to the outbreak after a 15-day period expires at the end of this month.
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
On Monday morning, Trump retweeted a number conservative commentators who questioned the wisdom of shutting down large parts of the economy to fight the coronavirus. One of the Twitter users interpreted him as saying anyone not deemed “high-risk” would be allowed to go back to work on April 1.
Correct. 15 days, then we keep the high risk groups protected as necessary and the rest of us go back to work.
— Steph (@steph93065) March 23, 2020
Trump issued new guidelines on March 16 aimed at slowing the spread of the disease over 15 days. He has said that if the government can defeat the virus, the markets will take care of themselves.
Trump hears calls to end coronavirus restrictions
As Congress wrangled over a 1 trillion-plus coronavirus stimulus package in the Senate earlier Sunday, Trump told reporters that disaster declarations in New York and Washington state have been approved. He said the White House was working with states to improve hospital surge capacity.
Nearly one in three Americans was under orders on Sunday to stay home to slow the spread of the virus as Ohio, Louisiana and Delaware became the latest states to enact broad restrictions, along with the city of Philadelphia.
They joined New York, California, Illinois, Connecticut and New Jersey, home to 101 million Americans combined.
Meanwhile, doctors and public have issued increasingly urgent warnings as occupancy rates have risen at hospitals and intensive-care units. The New York Times on Sunday published what it said was the consensus view of “a dozen of the world’s leading experts on fighting epidemics” about the severe longterm restrictions that would be needed to end the coronavirus pandemic.
However, Axios and Politico reported Trump is growing sympathetic to the idea, promoted by the Wall Street Journal editorial board on Thursday, that the economy will need to be unleashed from coronavirus-related restrictions sooner rather than later.
Vice President Mike Pence, speaking alongside Trump at Sunday’s White House press briefing, hinted at the change in thinking. He said his coronavirus task force, in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, would issue guidance this week about how people exposed to the virus could return to work by wearing a mask.
- President Donald Trump speaks at a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., on March 22, 2020.: Screen grab