On Friday, during the daily coronavirus press conference at the White House, President Donald Trump contemplated reopening the United States economy. Per The Hill, speaking with reporters gathered in the James Brady Briefing Room, the president described the decision as the biggest of his presidency.
“I don’t know that I’ve had a bigger decision. But I’m going to surround myself with the greatest minds,” Trump said. “Not only the greatest minds, but the greatest minds in numerous different businesses, including the business of politics and reason,” he stated.
“And we’re going to make a decision, and hopefully it’s going to be the right decision.”
“I will say this. I want to get it open as soon as we can,” the president added.
Trump has long signaled that he is eager to reopen the country as soon as possible, despite warnings from public health experts. According to Anand Parekh, chief medical adviser at the Bipartisan Policy Center, reopening the country and resuming normal activity too soon would not only jeopardize public health, but also lead to a second wave of coronavirus outbreaks, which could potentially force the federal government to shut everything down once again.
The president did not reveal which metrics he would use to make the final decision, but he pushed back against the notion that aggressive and widespread testing is necessary. According to the president, some areas of the country simply do not need testing because outbreaks are not equally intense everywhere.
“You don’t have to test every person in the state of Iowa, as an example,” he said, noting that the government will order testing if there is a “little hot corner” somewhere in the nation.
When and if he decides to reopen the economy, Trump revealed, he will consult a council of experts, business leaders, and administration officials in order to determine how exactly to proceed. The president also noted that he has been listening to public health experts, including Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, members of the White House’s coronavirus task force.
“I listen to them about everything,” the president said, adding that he understands “the other side of the argument” as well, and signaling that he could potentially be open to other ideas.
Friday’s conference lasted for more than two hours, so the president had more than enough time to discuss a variety of issues related to the pandemic. He talked about the administration’s fight against the virus, discussed testing, and got into heated exchanges with members of the press.
Notably, Trump attacked CNN correspondent Jim Acosta for asking an “insulting” question. Acosta asked about New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent statements about the need for more testing in his state, which is now one of the world’s top coronavirus hot spots.