President Trump said Tuesday that he would love to see the U.S. economy reopen by Easter, even as millions of Americans remain largely confined to their homes in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
““We’re opening up this incredible country. Because we have to do that. I’d love to have it open by Easter,” Trump said during a virtual town hall event on Fox News. “I would love to have the country opened up and just rarin’ to go by Easter.”
Easter Sunday is on April 12 this year, in less than three weeks.
“It’s such an important day for other reasons, but I’ll make it an important day for this too,” the president added.
“Wouldn’t it be great to have all the churches full?” Trump asked during a second Fox interview that aired later in the day. “You’ll have packed churches all over our country … I think it’ll be a beautiful time.”
“I’m not sure that’s going to be the day,” he added, but “that would be a beautiful thing.”
Trump has attracted criticism for his suggestion over the last few days that “we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself,” referring to the economic damage that has resulted from many Americans practicing “social distancing” and staying home since the coronavirus outbreak.
On Sunday, the president said the administration would reevaluate the recommendation to shutter businesses and schools, ban large gatherings, and require millions of workers to work from home after the initial 15-day period of social distancing that ends Monday of next week.
“Our people want to return to work. They will practice Social Distancing and all else, and Seniors will be watched over protectively & lovingly. We can do two things together,” Trump wrote in a Tuesday tweet.
He added a plea for Congress to act immediately on a massive economic stimulus bill with a price tag in the ballpark of $1 trillion that is still being negotiated by Republicans and Democrats, so the U.S. can “come back strong!”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi panned the administration’s change in tune regarding social distancing, saying, “the cost to the economy of many more people getting affected and sick is an even bigger cost than we’re seeing now.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also pushed back against the president’s eagerness to reopen the economy but added that he understood the desire to do so.
“I understand what the president is saying that this is unsustainable that we close down the economy and we continue to spend money. There is no doubt about that,” Cuomo said Tuesday at his daily press briefing on the coronavirus situation in his state. “But if you ask the American people to choose between public health and the economy then it’s no contest. No American is going to say ‘accelerate the economy at the cost of human life.'”