Thursday, April 9th 2020, 4:24 am
President Trump said he doesn't want to give a date for reopening the country, even as he expresses a desire for that to happen as soon as possible. Mr. Trump has previously offered an Easter goal for relaxing social distancing guidelines and reopening businesses, before extending that to April 30. Governors ultimately control when businesses can reopen.
"I don't like giving dates," the president said during Wednesday night's Coronavirus Task Force briefing.
The president said he will rely "very heavily" on his public health officials, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx. Meanwhile, conservative pundits like Laura Ingraham have been urging the president to jumpstart the economy on May 1.
"At some point, the president is going to have to look at Drs. Fauci and Birx and say, we're opening on May 1. Give me your best guidance on protocols, but we cannot deny our people their basic freedoms any longer," she advised the president on Twitter.
Vice President Mike Pence said there are some signs in places like the New York and New Jersey metro areas, California, Washington, Louisiana, Detroit and Chicago that the number of cases could be reaching a leveling off point, but emphasized that now is the time to practice intense social distancing.
"We all hope it is the beginning of a trend," Pence said.
During Wednesday's daily briefing, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters the U.S. has repatriated 50,000 Americans on hundreds of flights since January.
With the country still reeling from the economic impacts of the coronavirus, lawmakers on Capitol Hill have started crafting additional measures to provide relief for small businesses and Americans out of work because of the crisis.
On Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asked Congress to approve another $250 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, a key pillar of the $2.2 trillion stimulus package signed into law last month. The program is aimed at assisting small businesses to ensure they don't lay off workers and can pay their bills.
Congressional Democrats, meanwhile, are asking for $100 billion for hospitals and health systems, $150 billion for state and local governments, and an increase for funding for food stamps in addition to the aid for small businesses.
After the emergency funding for small businesses is approved by Congress, House and Senate Democratic leaders want to another legislative package to provide further relief for Americans battered by the coronavirus pandemic.
First published on April 8, 2020 / 7:47 AM
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