As parts of the country brace for the approaching peak of expected coronavirus deaths, US President Donald Trump continued to talk about opening up the country, allowing churches to congregate and pushing for sports events to start up again.
Trump discussed opening the country for the sake of the economy during Saturday’s White House task force update, even as his own health officials urged Americans to continue to stay at home and practice social distancing.
“We want to finish this war. We have to get back to work. We have to open our country again.” Trump said after saying the administration was using its authority and resources to fight the pandemic. “We don’t want to be doing this for months and months and months.”
“We’re going to open our country again. This country wasn’t meant for this. But we have to open our country again,” he added.
At that same conference, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, pleaded with Americans multiple times to continue following the federal guidelines designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
At one point, Trump, who said he was thinking about creating a new economy-focused coronavirus task force, followed up Fauci’s plea with his own plea for the country to be opened back up.
“The one thing that I am confident in ― so let’s take this to the bank ― is that mitigation works. It does,” Fauci told reporters. “That’s the reason why I keep coming up at every chance I get to plea with the American people to please take a look at those guidelines.”
“Every single one of those points has something to do with physical separation,” Fauci added before Trump stepped to the microphone with his counterpoint.
“Mitigation does work but, again, we’re not going to destroy our country. We have to get back,” Trump said. “Big decision to make at a certain point.”
At the task force update, Trump floated the idea of allowing churches to hold outdoor services “with great separation” for Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. However, Trump he said he would be tuning into services virtually.
The president also said he had spoken with the commissioners of major sports leagues who have expressed to him that they want to start hosting games again.
“They want to get back. They gotta get back. They can’t do this. Their sports weren’t designed for it. The whole concept of our nation wasn’t designed for it,” Trump said. “We’re gonna have to get back. We wanna get back soon.”
The issue of a federally-mandated stay-at-home order also came up again on Saturday. Trump reiterated that he wanted governors to decide on their own, even in states where the outbreaks are growing, such as South Carolina.
“We have a thing called the Constitution, which I cherish, number one. Number two: Those governors, I know every one of them, they’re doing a great job,” Trump told reporters.
“I want the governors to be running things,” he continued, adding, “if I saw something wrong, if I saw a massive breakout, I would come down very hard.”
As most states across the country have enacted some form of orders to quarantine in place, less than a dozen states in the Midwest and Southern part of the US have not taken action.