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Trump considers reopening U.S. economy despite coronavirus spread

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Trump considers reopening U.S. economy despite coronavirus spread

By Steve Holland and Jeff Mason



FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump holds a news conference, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Washington D.C., U.S., March 22, 2020. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump is considering measures to reopen the U.S. economy, even as the highly contagious coronavirus is spreading rapidly and hospitals are bracing for a wave of virus-related deaths.


Trump senior economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox News on Monday: "The president is right. The cure can't be worse than the disease. We're going to have to make some difficult trade-offs."


The White House would look at "a number of things," he said.


Trump issued guidelines a week ago that he said aimed to slow the spread of the disease over 15 days, including curbing unnecessary travel. In the meantime, economic activity has ground to a halt in some states.


Late on Sunday, Trump tweeted: "We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself," adding that at the end of the 15-day shutdown period, "we will make a decision as to which way we want to go."


Trump, who had hoped to build his campaign for the Nov. 3 election on a booming U.S. economy, now is looking at the potential of millions of lost jobs, in addition to hundreds if not thousands of deaths from COVID-19. Many of his Republican allies fear the toll on the economy would make it harder for him to win another four-year term.


President Donald Trump is considering measures to reopen the U.S. economy, even as the highly contagious coronavirus is spreading rapidly and hospitals are bracing for a wave of virus-related deaths. This report produced by Chris Dignam.


Cases of coronavirus have grown more than 15 times since last week's guidelines. New York City hospitals are days from a crisis, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Sunday. "If we don’t get more ventilators in the next 10 days, people will die who don’t have to die," he said.


Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump confidant, cautioned against prematurely lifting containment rules because of concerns about the economy.


“My advice would be to follow medical advice to contain the virus," he told reporters on Capitol Hill. "If we can take some pressure off the economy, fine, but my primary focus is to make sure the virus is contained and defeated. And we're just going to have to suffer through the economic consequences.”


The Trump administration has been pushing for aggressive monetary policy steps to stem the economic hit of the epidemic, after the president spent several weeks playing down the health risks and rapid spread.


The Federal Reserve on Monday rolled out an extraordinary array of programs to backstop an economy reeling from sweeping restrictions on people and businesses that scientists say are needed to limit the spread of the coronavirus.


While Trump ponders ways to reopen at least parts of the economy, some advisers are warning that the spread of the virus is worsening.


"This week, it's going to get bad," Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams told NBC's "Today" show on Monday. Americans are not taking stay-at-home guidelines seriously enough, he said.


Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Sunday the lockdown affecting large segments of the American public was likely to last 10 to 12 weeks, or until early June.



Over the last few days, some economic policy advisers have started to focus on how long lockdowns and other measures to contain the virus might last, said one adviser outside the administration.


Newly returned economic adviser Kevin Hassett’s team has determined that if the shutdowns continue much longer, the United States could slip into depression, he said.


One source said Trump began talking privately late last week about reopening the country after the 15-day shutdown. Trump believes "we are strong and need a strong economy as we deal with this crisis," the source said.


Stephen Moore, the economic commentator whom Trump tried to tap for a vacant Federal Reserve seat last year but who, facing staunch criticism, withdrew his candidacy, has been particularly influential, the adviser said. "He has the president's ear on this issue," he added.


Moore told Reuters on Monday there is a re-examination in the White House of the wisdom of “a full scale… shutdown of the economy.”


He said there were some who thought that “if we go on too long with the economy shut down, the human toll for that could be greater 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.


"No one wants to see this go on a day longer that it has to," said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. "But at the moment, the emphasis needs to stay on social distancing." The United States is still no where near meeting the demand for tests, so U.S. officials do not fully grasp how many Americans have been infected and where they are concentrated - crucial to containment efforts.


Former Republican Senator Bob Corker, who frequently had disagreed with Trump, said he backs the president's desire to resume some economic activity.


"We’re going to have, in my opinion, if it continues for long, because of the financial distress that people will have … a month from now, two months from now, three months from now when people are financially devastated, the domestic violence, suicides, deprivation that we’re inflicting upon ourselves," he said.


(Reporting by Steve Holland, Jeff Mason, Deena Beasley and Heather Timmons; additional reporting by Susan Heavey, Diane Bartz and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Dan Grebler and Howard Goller)



-- © Copyright Reuters 2020-03-24
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Yes, I am watching it now.

It appears in 7 days he will open things up again.

Seems mostly about the economic devastation that is taking place.

Still recommending people over 65 possibly stay self quarantine.

Not sure it is the best decision.

So, I guess we will have to see what happens.


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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, GinBoy2 said:

Thing is.

Trump and the Federal Government don't really have much control on what State Governors and City Mayors do with regard to their local communities.


I think a lot of Europeans don't quite understand, that unlike their countries, power is ceded to the Federal Government, not the other way round.

So if the State decides to lock everything down, there is precious little of Trump huffing, puffing and tweeting that can change that.


Gavin Newsom locking down California, or indeed my local Mayor in South Dakota closing non essential business' for what they consider the greater public health issue, takes precedent over anything the Fed's might say  


Thing is there will be nothing Gavin can do if people choose to ignore his orders especially if the feds stay out of it. 

Edited by Cryingdick
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57 minutes ago, Puchaiyank said:

Trying to strike a balance between protecting people from the virus while not devastating their lives with unmanageable financial burdens as a result of the general shutdown...a daunting task.


Tough job.  He will catch flack from the same hateful people who have maligned his Presidency...regardless of what direction he takes.



What else do you call a spade, apart from a spade?

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