‘It is all working out. It is horrible to go through, but it is working out…’
(Liberty Headlines) Anxious to spur an economic recovery without risking lives, President Donald Trump on Sunday insisted that “you can satisfy both” — see some states gradually lift lockdowns while also protecting people from the Wuhan virus.
The president, fielding questions from Americans in a virtual town hall from the Lincoln Memorial, acknowledged valid fears on both sides of the issue. Some people are worried about getting sick; others are reeling from lost jobs and livelihoods.
He struck a note of urgency to restart the nation’s economy, declaring “we have to reopen our country.”
“We have to get it back open safely but as quickly as possible,” Trump said.
After more than a month of being cooped up at the White House, Trump returned from a weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland for the virtual town hall hosted by Fox News Channel.
The president said of his backdrop: “We never had a more beautiful set than this.”
Trump stuck to his relentlessly optimistic view of the nation’s ability to rebound soon.
“It is all working out,” Trump said. “It is horrible to go through, but it is working out.”
Some public health experts believe the nation cannot safely reopen fully until a vaccine is developed.
Trump declared Sunday that he believed one could be available by year’s end.
U.S. public health officials have said a vaccine is probably a year to 18 months away. But Dr. Anthony Fauci said in late April that it is conceivable, if a vaccine is soon developed, that it could be in wide distribution as early as January.
“I’ll tell you one thing. We did the right thing and I really believe we saved a million and a half lives,” the president said.
But he also broke with the assessment of his senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, saying it was “too soon to say” the federal government had overseen a “success story.”
While noting that states would go at their own pace in returning to normal, with ones harder hit by the coronavirus going slower, he said that “some states, frankly, I think aren’t going fast enough.”
He singled out Virginia, which has a Democratic governor and legislature. And he urged the nation’s schools and universities to return to classes this fall.
Federal guidelines that encouraged people to stay at home and practice social distancing expired late last week.
Debate continued over moves by governors to start reopening state economies that tanked after shopping malls, salons and other nonessential businesses were ordered closed.
The U.S. economy has suffered, shrinking at a 4.8% annual rate from January through March, the government estimated last week. It was the sharpest quarterly drop since the 2008 financial crisis.
Roughly 30.3 million people have filed for unemployment aid in the six weeks since the outbreak forced employers to shut down and slash their workforces. It was the worst string of layoffs on record.
The president’s aides believe restarting the economy, even with its health risks, is essential to a victory in November and are pushing for him to pivot away from discussions about the pandemic and onto an American comeback story.
To that, he will begin traveling again, with a trip to a mask factory in Arizona planned for Tuesday.
Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic adviser, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the administration would “pause” to review the effectiveness of trillions in economic relief spending before making any decision on whether additional aid is needed.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that state and local governments are seeking up to $1 trillion for coronavirus costs.
The Senate planned to reopen Monday, despite the Washington area’s continued status as a virus hot spot and with the region still under stay-at-home orders.
The House remains shuttered.
The pandemic is forcing big changes at the tradition-bound Supreme Court: The justices will hear arguments, beginning Monday, by telephone for the first time since Alexander Graham Bell patented his invention in 1876.
The leaders of California and Michigan are among governors under public pressure over lockdowns still in effect while states such as Florida, Georgia and Ohio are reopening.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, said Sunday that the armed protesters who demonstrated inside her state’s Capitol “depicted some of the worst racism” and “awful parts” of U.S. history.
Despite the opposition of Michigan’s Republican-controlled Legislature, Whitmer has illegally extended a state of emergency declaration and directed most businesses statewide to remain closed.
Trump on Sunday night singled out her and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, also a Democrat, for criticism even as he praised the federal coordination with most governors.
Some people participating in other public protests across the U.S. have not kept their distance from one another and have rallied without masks, not heeding public health recommendations.
Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, called that behavior “devastatingly worrisome.”
She shame people, saying that they will feel guilty for the rest of their lives if they end up infected and unwittingly spread the virus to vulnerable family members.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press.