Treasury Secretary Mnuchin Says U.S. Can't Shut Down Economy Again if Coronavirus Second Wave Occurs

United States Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Thursday that the country cannot shut down the economy again if a second wave of the coronavirus occurs.

"We can't shut down the economy again. I think we have learned that if you shut down the economy you're going to create more damage, and not just economic damage," Steve Mnuchin, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury said during an appearance on CNBC. "There are other areas...of medical problems and everything else that gets put on hold."

Mnuchin also said that while there will be areas that have higher outbreaks due to reopening, the outlook on testing and hospital capacity is positive throughout the country.

"I'd say the good news is plenty of hospital capacity, a lot of progress on testing. I think we're over 20 million people that have been tested and will continue to test people...and that was something that was the big problem and the reason why the president needed to close down parts of the economy," Mnuchin said.

The Treasury secretary said that only about $1.6 trillion of the $3 trillion in federal pandemic relief is currently in the economy thus far, and that the rest will be pumped into the economy "over the next month," which he expects will have a big impact.

"We have the fed program, we have Main Street, which is going to be now up and running, and we're prepared to go back to Congress for more money to support the American workers. We're going to get everybody back to work. That's my number one job working with the president," Mnuchin said.

Over 44 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic, though the claims per week have declined for 10 straight weeks, as businesses were forced to shut down by state lockdown orders to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Small businesses hoping to keep their doors open could opt to take part in the Paycheck Protection Program, a provision in the $2 trillion CARES Act available for small businesses to borrow money from the government that they may not have to repay. Mnuchin said Thursday that the administration "could not be more pleased with the success of the PPP."

"Not only did we save millions and millions of jobs, but there is no question in my mind the increase in jobs was a direct result of the PPP and reopening the economy," Mnuchin said, adding that restaurants, in particular, have more flexibility after the forgiveness deadline for the loans was extended to 24 weeks from the previous timeframe of 8 weeks, and now that only 60 percent of the loan amount needs to be used toward payroll. Previously, borrowers had to use 75 percent of loan funds for payroll.

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WASHINGTON D.C., JUNE 10, 2020 - US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin on Capitol Hill. (Photo by KEVIN DIETSCH / POOL / AFP) (Photo by KEVIN DIETSCH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) KEVIN DIETSCH/Getty