President Donald Trump says he wants the nation “opened up and just raring to go by Easter” — a date just more than two weeks away that few health experts believe will be sufficient in containing the spread of coronavirus.
Speaking during a Fox News town hall on Tuesday, Trump reiterated he was eager to see the nation return to normal soon, even as doctors warn the nation will see a massive spike in cases if Americans return to crowded workplaces or events. “I give it two weeks,” Trump said earlier in the town hall, suggesting he was ready to phase out his 15-day self-isolating guidelines when they expire. “I guess by Monday or Tuesday, it’s about two weeks. We will assess at that time and give it more time if we need a little more time. We have to open this country up.” But Trump said Monday that the health experts on his task force do not necessarily agree with his hope for a quick return to their jobs to boost the economy. Some Republicans on Capitol Hill, including Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, are also sounding the alarm. “There will be no normally functioning economy if our hospitals are overwhelmed and thousands of Americans of all ages, including our doctors and nurses, lay dying because we have failed to do what’s necessary to stop the virus,” Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, tweeted Tuesday. Trump’s new Easter goal — to have the country back to normal by Sunday, April 12 — came hours after the New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the state is expecting a height of coronavirus infections to come in two to three weeks. In a separate Fox News interview later Tuesday, the President provided a little more reasoning behind his timeline. “So, I think Easter Sunday, and you’ll have packed churches all over our country. I think it would be a beautiful time. And it’s just about the timeline that I think is right,” he said. The administration’s social distancing guidelines recommend against gatherings of more than 10 people, and many places of worship have adapted with online services. Trump did concede he wasn’t sure if that timing — just 19 days from now — would work. “It gives us more chance to work on what we’re doing, and I’m not sure that’s going to be the day, but I would love to aim it right at Easter Sunday, so we’re open for church service and services generally on Easter Sunday,” he said. “That would be a beautiful thing.”