In Brief

Is Donald Trump preparing to end coronavirus containment measures?

President reportedly losing patience as he says the US will soon be open for business again

Speculation is growing that Donald Trump is preparing to reverse coronavirus containment measures in the US, despite a growing number of infections across the country.

At a press conference yesterday, the president said that “America will again and soon be open for business”, using the past tense to add: “This was a learning experience for the people of our country.”

The previous evening, Trump had tweet: “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF.”

Referring to the 15-day period during which the White House encouraged all Americans to work from home and limit gatherings of more than 10 people, he added: “AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!”

“Donald Trump may be having second thoughts,” writes Anthony Zurcher, the BBC’s North America reporter.

“Not only is Trump looking at this as a president whose re-election could hinge on an economic rebound,” Zurcher adds. “He is also a businessman watching his life’s work - his empire of resorts, hotels and golf courses, some of which were reportedly already in financial trouble - face an existential crisis.”

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According to a Goldman Sachs report, the US’s gross domestic product in the second quarter could shrink by 24%, dwarfing the previous record decline of 10% in 1958. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has predicted that US unemployment could hit 20%.

Former economic advisor to the Trump administration, Gary Cohn, has called for “a date when the economy can turn back on”.

Cohn said: “Policymakers have taken bold public health and economic actions to address the coronavirus, but businesses need clarity. Otherwise they will assume the worst and make decisions to survive.” However, many on the right of US politics continue to argue for strong containment measures.

Steve Bannon, a former senior White House staffer told Fox News that the president should “go full hammer on the virus right now with a full shutdown”. 

Bannon added that the president should use an emergency $850bn (£702bn) economic stimulus package to deal with the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

There are over 42,600 cases of coronavirus in the US, including at least 540 deaths. New York has around half the U.S’s 30,000 coronavirus cases and 5% of cases worldwide.

Surgeon General Jerome Adams warned yesterday that the worst was yet to come from the coronavirus. 

“I want America to understand, this week, it’s going to get bad,” Adams said. “And right now there are not enough people out there who are taking this seriously.”

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