To open the economy or not to open the economy. That is the question. And it’s one that’s been squarely placed at the center of the COVID-19 pandemic as Donald J. Trump and a number of GOP governors (who are outlining dates for their respective states) seek to resume business as usual while health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, make clear that the date Trump wants is too soon.
In an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, the government’s top infectious disease expert explained that the country does not have the proper infrastructure for testing and tracing procedures to reopen the economy. “We have to have something in place that is efficient and that we can rely on, and we’re not there yet,” Fauci insisted. He also shared that the May 1 target date given by the Trump administration was “a bit overly optimistic” for a large swath of the country that is still dealing with rising coronavirus cases.
Hours later at the daily coronavirus press briefing, Trump ignored the concerns of a noticeably missing Fauci and stated, “I will be speaking to all 50 governors very shortly.” He added, “I will then be authorizing each individual governor of each individual state to implement a reopening, very powerful reopening plan of their state in a time, in a manner which is most appropriate.”
States do not require authority from Trump to reopen. But his decision to speak with state leaders about loosening pandemic-spurred restrictions raises eyebrows given that health officials continue to say that social distancing measures are working. Reopening the economy could potentially destroy death projections and cause a second wave of infections, leading to more fatalities. A number of Democratic governors, including Gavin Newsom of California and Phil Murphy of New Jersey have said that they will let science guide them, not politics. They’ve also committed to lifting restrictions in waves, with a formal rollout plan.
Trump has discussed reopening the economy since the early days of the coronavirus outbreak. At a briefing on March 23, just ten days after he declared a national emergency because of the pandemic, he stated that he was looking to resume business by Easter.
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