President Donald Trump listens as White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx speaks during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House, Friday, March 20, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Earlier today, the Washington Post ran a story headlined Trump weighs restarting economy despite warnings from U.S. public health officials
President Trump is weighing calls from some Republican lawmakers and White House advisers to scale back steps to contain the coronavirus despite the advice of federal health officials as a growing number of conservatives argue that the impact on the economy has become too severe, according to several people with knowledge of the internal deliberations.
Loosening restrictions on social distancing would override the internal warnings of senior U.S. health officials, including Anthony S. Fauci, who have said that the United States has not yet felt the worst of the pandemic.
This comes from a tweet from President Trump (naturally):
WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF. AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 23, 2020
Public health experts are strongly warning against the idea of loosening social distancing measures. Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiology professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of Harvard’s Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, said “every well-informed infectious epidemiologist I know of” believes the United States should be tightening the restrictions.
“We haven’t yet even seen signs that the growth is slowing, much less reversing. Now is the time to tighten restrictions on contacts that could transmit the virus, not loosen them,” Lipsitch said. “If we let up now we can be virtually certain that health care will be overwhelmed in many if not all parts of the country. This is the view of every well-informed infectious epidemiologist I know of.”
But pressure is also mounting on Trump from top business leaders and conservative media outlets alarmed about the effect on the economy. James Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, warned Sunday that the unemployment rate in the nation could reach 30 percent in the second quarter amid the outbreak. The stock market, a key selling point of Trump’s reelection bid, has been floundering.
Today’s Wuhan briefing seemed to verify that this national exercise in hiding under the bed, sorry, social distancing and shelter-in-place:
Dr. Birx says initial US response was blunt and broad because it had to be but as more data comes in, there will be more specific and regionalized response. Also that different hotspots in US are at different stages.
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) March 23, 2020
NEW: Dr. Deborah Birx says the NY, NJ, Long Island area is of special concern. She says coronavirus has an attack rate close to 1 in 1,000 in this area.
28% of submitted specimens are positive in this area.
"This is the group that absolutely needs to social distance."
— Tom Winter (@Tom_Winter) March 23, 2020
Trump, asked if he’ll reopen the country after 14 days even if Drs. Fauchi & Birx continue to advise keeping people at home says, “We can do two things at once. “
— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) March 23, 2020
This is exactly what needs to be done. By next Friday, we will have been dealing with Wuhan virus in a major way for about two months. Testing is ramping up. Interventions to reduce the effect of Wuhan virus are moving through large scale clinical trials and, based on what we’re hearing, may not be an absolute cure but they will drastically reduce the effect of the virus. What seems to be in the offing is a relaxation of national guidelines and an emphasis on local responses to local conditions.
Keeping large areas of the nation shut down is not doing anything for anyone. We aren’t building herd immunity and therefore not reducing the danger to at-risk populations, we are killing small businesses, and our liberties are being eroded by people using a public health Romulan Cloaking Device to carry out an assault on civil liberties.