As the Trump administration lays the groundwork for reopening parts of the U.S. economy as early as May, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said getting up and running too quickly amid the epidemic would only “make matters worse.”
Pelosi, in interviews with CNBC and Politico, urged President Donald Trump not to lift lockdowns until the pandemic is sufficiently under control.
“I don’t think anybody can tell you a date unless we just take it a week at a time. But let’s be hopeful that it’s soon,” she told CNBC’s Jim Cramer in an interview Thursday.
“I would hope that the scientific community would weigh in and say, ‘You can’t do this, it is only going to make matters worse if you go out too soon,’” Pelosi said in a separate interview with Politico.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, told CNN Friday that there were encouraging signs of the epidemic tapering in places.
“What we’re seeing right now are some favorable signs,” Fauci said in the interview, citing progress in hard-hit New York.
But he cautioned against moving too quickly to reopen society, saying: “We would want to see a clear indication that you were very, very clearly and strongly going in the right direction. Because the one thing you don’t want to do is you don’t want to get out there prematurely and you wind up back in the same situation.”
Fauci encouraged Americans to observe social distancing guidelines around Easter, a time when families come together.
“Now is no time to back off,” Fauci said.
As the CCP virus has aggressively spread across the nation, with Johns Hopkins figures at the time of reporting noting 466,396 infections and 16,703 deaths, Pelosi said the House would probably not return to session in April, saying: “This has taken an acceleration from when we started this … Little did we know then that at this point, we’d be further confined.”
Trump, meanwhile, has sought to balance the needs of Americans to make a living with restrictions intended to save lives. The president said at an April 9 White House briefing that the economic shutdowns have exacted “a tremendous toll, mentally, on a lot of people.”
“I think we’re going to open up strong. I think we’re going to open up very successfully, and, I’d like to say, even more successfully than before,” Trump said, adding that, “We’re going to be opening up … very, very, very, very soon, I hope.”
At the briefing, Trump also reported that, to date, there have been over 2 million CCP virus tests performed, with more than 100,000 people tested per day.
“Millions of Americans are making profound and difficult sacrifices in their own lives because they know it will save the lives of countless others,” he said, adding, “But I think our country, from an economic standpoint, will end up being stronger than ever.”
“I think that what’s going to happen is we’re going to have a big bounce rather than a small bounce. But we will be back,” Trump said.
The Trump administration’s top economic officials said on Thursday they believe the U.S. economy could start to reopen for normal business as early as May.
“As soon as the president feels comfortable with the medical issues, we are making everything necessary that American companies and American workers can be open for business and that they have the liquidity they need to operate the business in the interim,” Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin told CNBC in an interview Thursday.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, speaking on Fox Business Network, said the economy should be able to reopen on a “rolling basis” over the next month or two.
“Our intent here was—is—to try to relieve people of the enormous difficult hardships they are suffering through no fault of their own,” Kudlow said.
Fauci told CNN that members of the COVID-19 task force look at data every day for indications “we can go forward in a gradual way to essentially reopening the country.”
He said task force members report back to Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, who will ultimately decide when to reopen the country.
“That decision will be made at that level,” Fauci said.
Reuters contributed to this report.