In an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus, the U.S. economy has been shut down since the White House issued strict social distancing guidelines in March. Since then, 42 states have been placed under a stay-at-home order. Those orders are set to expire on April 30. As nearly 17 million Americans have filed for unemployment over the past few weeks, Trump has expressed his strong desire to get people back to work.
President Trump announced Monday that decision to reopen the U.S. economy is his to make, and one that will be made shortly, “in conjunction” with governors and other officials, as the White House forms a second coronavirus task force focused on that goal.
“I’m gonna have to make a decision, and I only hope to God it is the right decision,” Trump said. “But I would say without question, it is the biggest decision I have ever had to make.”
The president first announced the task force on Friday during a coronavirus task force briefing, saying that he understands the gravity of the situation as he prepares to make a decision on whether to ease social distancing guidelines to open the economy.
Speculation that the second task force will be formally introduced on Tuesday, and will be chaired by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
According to sources, the task force, will also include members of President Trump’s Cabinet, including: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, Labor Secretary Gene Scalia, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and acting director of the Office of Management and Budget Russ Vought. The task force is also expected to include acting chair of the Council of Economic Advisors Tom Philipson and White House advisers Larry Kudlow, Peter Navarro, Chris Liddell, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.
“It’s been my honor to be the president for the American people… I have a big decision coming up and I only hope to God it’s the right decision,” Trump said.
A number of states have already extended their stay-at-home and social distancing orders beyond May 1, with Virginia’s governor targeting June 10.
“All these executive orders are state executive orders and so, therefore, it would be up to the state and the governor to undo a lot of that, said Chris Sununu, the Republican governor of New Hampshire.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose state has been hardest hit by the new coronavirus, said Monday he would coordinate his response with governors of neighboring states. So, we’ll listen to the experts, we’ll follow the data but remember this is a delicate balance,” he told reporters.