WASHINGTON (AP) — With lives and the economy hanging in the balance, President Donald Trump is weighing how to refine nationwide social-distancing guidelines to put some workers back on the job amid the coronavirus pandemic.
At a virtual town hall hosted by Fox News on Tuesday, Trump said he'd reassess after the current 15-day period of social distancing. The president said he is hoping the country will be reopened by Easter.
His enthusiasm for getting people back to work comes as he takes stock of the political toll the outbreak is taking. It also sets up a potential conflict with medical professionals, including many within his government, who have called for more social restrictions.
Health experts have made clear that unless Americans continue to dramatically limit social interaction, staying home from work and isolating themselves, the number of infections will overwhelm the health care system, as it has in parts of Italy, leading to many more deaths.
While the worst outbreaks are concentrated in certain parts of the country, such as New York, experts warn that the highly infectious disease is certain to spread.
The president’s comments come as Senate leaders work to negotiate a deal to ease the economic pain of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. Both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the top Democrat, Sen. Chuck Schumer, say an agreement appears close.
The package would free up nearly $2 trillion to help businesses and workers. A key provision in the emerging package would provide stepped-up unemployment insurance for workers furloughed because of the pandemic.
After being ravaged for days, stocks rose as congressional and White House negotiators approached a deal.
Any deal struck by the Senate would need House approval next.