After initially downplaying the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump -- in collaboration with the United States Congress and state governments -- undertook significant measures to curb the outbreak. The prospect of a devastating economic crisis appears to have made the president change his mind once again, however, since he is now suggesting that the economy needs to be reopened by Easter.
Not all Republicans agree with Trump. During a press conference on Friday, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker bucked the president's suggestion, arguing that it is necessary to listen to public health experts. Per Politico, Baker told the press that local experts have rejected the notion that relaxing restrictions by April 12 is a good idea. "The information we're getting from public health experts and from health care providers here in Massachusetts -- yeah, no," he said.
"We're not going to be up and running by Easter, no."As the publication notes, Baker has taken aggressive steps to stop the spread of the virus in Massachusetts, which has been one of the hardest-hit states in the nation. The governor has ordered both public and private schools to remain closed until at least May 4, issued a stay-at-home order for Bay State residents, and closed all nonessential businesses.
During the press conference, Baker also announced that all travelers arriving in his state will be given fliers with instructions at train stops, rest stops, and airports. Every traveler arriving in Massachusetts, he said, must self-quarantine for two weeks.Although Trump has repeatedly suggested that the goal is to reopen the economy by Easter, Vice President Mike Pence has been more careful with his wording, stating during a recent CNBC interview that "there's going to be areas of the country where we need to continue to lean into mitigation efforts."
"The president said he would love to see it around Easter, but whenever that day is that we can responsibly begin to open up portions of the country," Pence said.
Some Trump critics claim that the president and his allies would be willing to loosen all restrictions in order to save the sinking economy, even if that means letting vulnerable populations contract the virus. CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, for instance, said on Saturday that the Trump administration is "OK with a certain number of the frail and the greatest generation dying off to make the economy come back sooner."
Cuomo also argued that one of the main reasons the United States has the most coronavirus cases in the world is Trump's incompetence, claiming that the president is "in large part" to blame for the severity of the outbreak in the country. According to the anchor, Trump is to blame because he initially downplayed the threat and because he is now "not doing enough" to stop the spread of the virus.