Trump says he hopes US will be re­opened by Easter amid virus

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - WEATHER - By Zeke Miller and Dar­lene Su­perville

WASH­ING­TON » Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said Tues­day he is hop­ing the United States will be re­opened by Easter as he weighs how to re­lax na­tion­wide so­cial dis­tanc­ing guide­lines to put some work­ers back on the job dur­ing the coro­n­avirus out­break, while con­tra­dict­ing the warn­ings of pub­lic health of­fi­cials on the di­rec­tion of the cri­sis.

With lives and the econ­omy hang­ing in the bal­ance, and with many health of­fi­cials call­ing for stricter — not looser — restrictio­ns on pub­lic in­ter­ac­tions, Trump said he was al­ready look­ing to­ward eas­ing the ad­vi­sories that have side­lined work­ers, shut­tered schools and led to a widespread eco­nomic slow­down.

“I would love to have the coun­try opened up and just rar­ing to go by Easter,” he said dur­ing a Fox News vir­tual town hall. Easter is just over two weeks away — Apr. 12.

“Wouldn’t it be great to have all of the churches full?” Trump said in a sub­se­quent in­ter­view. “You’ll have packed churches all over our coun­try.”

And as sci­en­tists warned the worst is yet to come — with hospi­tal sys­tems tested be­yond their ca­pac­ity and health work­ers side­lined by ex­po­sure — Trump ad­dressed the na­tion, say­ing he was be­gin­ning “to see the light at the end of the tun­nel.”

Trump’s com­ments came even as White House of­fi­cials urged peo­ple who have left New York City amid the out­break to self­quar­an­tine for 14 days af­ter their de­par­ture, ow­ing to the widespread rate of in­fec­tion in the metro area. It also fol­lows on the pres­i­dent en­cour­ag­ing law­mak­ers on Capi­tol Hill to pass a roughly $2 trillion stim­u­lus pack­age — es­ti­mated at roughly $6 trillion once the Fed­eral Re­serve’s ac­tions are in­cluded — to ease the fi­nan­cial pain for Amer­i­cans and hard-hit in­dus­tries.

Health ex­perts have made clear that un­less Amer­i­cans con­tinue to dra­mat­i­cally limit so­cial in­ter­ac­tion — stay­ing home from work and iso­lat­ing them­selves — the num­ber of in­fec­tions will over­whelm the health care sys­tem, as it has in parts of Italy, lead­ing to many more deaths. While the worst out­breaks are con­cen­trated in cer­tain parts of the coun­try, such as New York, ex­perts warn that the highly in­fec­tious dis­ease is cer­tain to spread.

The U.S. is now more than a week into an un­prece­dented 15-day ef­fort to en­cour­age all Amer­i­cans to dras­ti­cally scale back their pub­lic ac­tiv­i­ties. The guide­lines, is­sued by the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion, are vol­un­tary, but many state and lo­cal lead­ers have is­sued manda­tory restrictio­ns in line with, or even tighter than, those is­sued by the CDC.

On Mon­day, the U.S. saw its big­gest jump yet in the death toll from the virus, with more than 650 Amer­i­can deaths now at­trib­uted to COVID-19. Trump’s com­ments come af­ter dire warn­ings by of­fi­cials in hard-hit ar­eas. New York. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state’s hospi­tal sys­tem will soon hit a break­ing point — re­sult­ing in avoid­able deaths — even with the restrictio­ns al­ready in place.

“I gave it two weeks,” Trump said dur­ing the town hall from the Rose Gar­den. He ar­gued that tens of thou­sands of Amer­i­cans die each year from the sea­sonal flu and in au­to­mo­bile ac­ci­dents and “we don’t turn the coun­try off.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.