President Donald Trump said on Friday that he will not reopen the economy “until we know this country is going to be healthy.”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reportedly projected that lifting stay-at-home orders, school closures and social distancing after just 30 days would lead to an infection spike this summer, according to documents first reported by The New York Times.
When asked whether Trump had seen federal projections that the coronavirus could resurge if the 30-day shelter-in-place orders were lifted, he said he had not seen the projections.
“We’re looking at a date, we hope we’ll be able to fulfill a certain date, but we’re not doing anything until we know this country is going to be healthy,” Trump said during a White House press briefing. “We don’t want to go back and start doing it over again, even though it would be in a smaller scale.”
Trump said he also plans to announce an “Opening our Country Council” on Tuesday comprised of business leaders and doctors and potentially governors that will help determine how to reopen the economy.
“I’ve gained great respect for governors, both Republican and Democrat. I’ve actually become friends with some of the Democrat governors that I wouldn’t have really had the privilege of getting to know,” Trump said.
He added that he wants the states’ governors to ultimately decide whether to reopen parts of the country, but said he has “great authority” if he wanted to use it and said the question of when to ease social distancing restrictions will be “the biggest decision” he’s ever made.
“I don’t know that I’ve had a bigger decision, but I’m going to surround myself with the greatest minds, not only the greatest minds, but the greatest minds in numerous different businesses, including the business of politics and reason, and we’re going to make a decision,” Trump said, adding that, “Hopefully it’s going to be the right decision.”
Trump said that he would be open to reshuttering the U.S. economy if it were opened initially but another outbreak of COVID-19 cases followed.
“I want to get it open as soon as possible. This country was meant to be open and vibrant...” Trump said. “I would love to open it, I’m not determined to anything. The facts will determine what I do, but we do want to get the country open.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House health advisor, said that whenever governments begin to pull back restrictions, there could be a resurgence in new cases. The goal at that point would be to quickly identify new cases, isolate infected people and contact trace, or determine the origin of infection.
“When we decide at a proper time when we’re going to be relaxing some of the restrictions, there’s not doubt you’re going to see cases, Fauci said. “I’d be surprised if we didn’t see cases. The question is how do you respond to them.”