US President Donald Trump is looking to make a decision on when to reopen parts of the economy shattered by the coronavirus pandemic “fairly soon”.
“I think it’s going to be the toughest decision that I’ve ever made – hopefully that I ever will have to make,” he told Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro on Saturday.
“And I hope that I’m going to make the right decision. I’ll be basing it on a lot of very smart people, a lot of professionals, doctors and business leaders.”
The enforcement of stay-at-home orders and social distancing rules across the country, which has most coronavirus cases and deaths in the world, has come at a heavy cost for the economy. More than 16.8 million people have lost their jobs as a result of business closures and mass layoffs.
Pressed with these conditions and the election looming in less than seven months, Trump initially planned to restore economic activity in the country back to normal by Easter. However, as the coronavirus death toll kept growing, that decision has been delayed.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday that he believed it was possible for companies to reopen in May so long as Trump “feels comfortable with the medical issues,” and Trump’s economic adviser Larry Kudlow estimated that it coud happen in the next four to eight weeks.
Meanwhile, US health officials project that lifting stay-at-home orders, school closures, social distancing and mass gathering restrictions after just 30 days would lead to a resurgence of infections in the summer, according to documents obtained by The New York Times.
On Tuesday, the President is planning to formally convene a second coronavirus task force, which would set a date for reopening the rattled economy. That team will likely include governors, who make the calls about statewide stay-at-home orders.
“There are a lot of things that go into a decision like that. And it’s going to be based on a lot of facts and a lot of instinct, also,” he said in Saturday’s interview.
"We’re setting up a council now of some of the most distinguished leaders in virtually every field, including politics and business and medical. And we’ll be making that decision fairly soon.”
“We’re going to rebuild it (the economy) again in honor of all those who perished today,” Trump stated as he expressed belief that “pent-up demand”, coupled with relief assistance, will lead to a “tremendous” economic surge.
“I think it’s going to be like a rocket ship, I really believe that. We’ll have to see what happens.”