WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump is considering measures to reopen the US economy, despite the spread of the highly contagious corona virus and hospitals preparing for a wave of virus-related deaths.
United States President Donald Trump gestures during a press conference during the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Washington, DC, the United States, March 22, 2020. REUTERS / Yuri Gripas
Trump’s chief economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, told Fox News on Monday: “The president is right. The cure cannot be worse than the disease. We have to make some difficult compromises. ”
The White House would consider “a number of things,” he said.
Trump issued guidelines a week ago aimed at slowing the spread of the disease for 15 days, including containing unnecessary travel. In the meantime, economic activity has come to a standstill in some countries.
Late Sunday, Trump tweeted, “We can’t allow the cure to be worse than the problem itself,” adding that at the end of the 15-day shutdown period, “we’ll make a decision about which way to go.”
Trump, who had hoped to base his election campaign for the November 3 election on a booming U.S. economy, is now exploring the potential of millions of jobs lost and hundreds, if not thousands, of COVID-19 deaths. Many of his Republican allies fear that the economic strain will make it difficult for him to win another four-year term.
Coronavirus cases have grown more than 15 times since last week’s guidelines. New York hospitals are days from a crisis, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Sunday. “If we don’t get ventilators in the next 10 days, people who don’t have to die will die,” he said.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump confidante, warned of an early lifting of the containment rules for economic reasons.
“My advice would be to take medical advice to contain the virus,” he told reporters on Capitol Hill. “If we can take some of the pressure off the economy, that’s fine, but my main focus is to make sure the virus is contained and defeated. And we will only have to suffer from the economic consequences. ”
The Trump administration has pushed for aggressive monetary policy moves to curb the economic blow of the epidemic after the president spent several weeks downplaying the health risks and rapid spread.
The Federal Reserve launched an exceptional series of programs on Monday to stop an economy affected by the extensive human and business constraints that scientists believe will limit the spread of the coronavirus.
While Trump is considering ways to reopen at least parts of the economy, some advisors are warning that the spread of the virus is worsening.
“It will be bad this week,” said General Surgeon Dr. Jerome Adams on NBC’s “Today” show on Monday. Americans are not taking the guidelines for staying at home seriously enough, he said.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Sunday that the blockade, which affects large parts of the American public, is expected to last 10 to 12 weeks or early June.
In recent days, some economic advisers have focused on how long bans and other measures to contain the virus could take, an outside consultant said.
The team of newly returning economic advisor Kevin Hassett has found that if the stalemates last much longer, the US could become depressed, he said.
According to a source, Trump began speaking privately at the end of last week about the country’s reopening after the 15-day closure. Trump believes “we are strong and need a strong economy if we can deal with this crisis,” the source said.
Stephen Moore, the economic commentator Trump tried to get for a vacant seat in the Federal Reserve last year, but who withdrew due to fierce criticism, was particularly influential, the adviser said. “He has the President’s ear on this issue,” he added.
Moore told Reuters on Monday that the White House is again reviewing whether it is a “complete shutdown of the economy”.
He said there were some who thought, “If we continue to shut down the economy for too long, the human toll could be higher than the risk of the virus.”
Medical experts say there is no way to return to more normal activity without knowing how widespread the virus is in the U.S. population.
“Nobody wants this to take a day longer than necessary,” said Dr. William Schaffner, professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “But the focus at the moment has to remain on social distancing.” The United States is still not far from meeting the demand for testing, so U.S. officials do not fully understand how many Americans have been infected and where they are concentrated – critical to containment efforts.
Former Republican Senator Bob Corker, who had often contradicted Trump, said he supported the president’s desire to resume economic activity.
“In my opinion, if it lasts a long time, we will have it because of the financial hardship people will have … in a month, in two months, in three months when people are devastated financially, domestic violence, Suicides, privations that we inflict on ourselves, ”he said.
Reporting by Steve Holland, Jeff Mason, Deena Beasley and Heather Timmons; additional reporting by Susan Heavey, Diane Bartz and Patricia Zengerle; Edited by Dan Grebler and Howard Goller