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Data will drive decision to reopen country, Trump says

Posted: 2:45 PM, Mar 24, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-24 18:54:58-04
White House to hold COVID-19 briefing after Trump said he wants to reopen country by Easter

After originally not having a briefing scheduled, the White House opted Tuesday afternoon to hold a briefing to deliver an update as cases of COVID-19 continue to increase nationwide.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there are more than 51,000 coronavirus cases throughout the United States, according to John Hopkins University data.

In the last two days, the tone coming from the White House has shifted from one of preparedness to one of trying to reopen segments of the economy. On Monday, President Donald Trump said that “we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself," suggesting that the economic impact of the nation's coronavirus response could be worse than the spread of the virus.

Trump said that he believes that the United States can “do both” protect lives and reopen the economy.

On Tuesday, Trump said on Fox News that he has a goal to have the economy “opened up and just raring to go by Easter.”

At the White House's briefing on Tuesday, Trump said that data would inform his decision. But when asked why he made Easter a target date, he said that it's a "special day."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has been advising the White House through this crisis, said that any goals should be flexible.

But Trump’s approach is at odds of many state governors and health directors.

In New York, which has seen nearly half the number of US cases of coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave a dire proclamation of what is to happen in the weeks to come.

“FEMA says we're sending 400 ventilators. Really? What am I going to do 400 ventilators when I need 30,000?” Cuomo said. “You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators.”

Meanwhile, the US Senate is nearing an agreement on a multi-trillion-dollar bill to offer assistance to companies and individuals affected by the economic impacts of the coronavirus.

"I just finished a very productive meeting with secretary Mnuchin, the white house congressional liaison Eric Ueland and Mark Meadows, the president's acting chief of staff,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. “Last night, I thought we were on the five yard line. Right now we're on the two.”