Trump Administration Officials Indicate U.S. Economy Could Start Reopening in Early May

Several of President Donald Trump's top officials have indicated that the administration could be hoping to restart the economy by early May.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to inflict severe damage to the economy, members of the administration have increasingly called for business to quickly resume, sometimes in opposition to the recommendations of public health experts.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC's Jim Cramer on Thursday that he believes the economy could be open again by May as long as Trump "feels comfortable with the medical issues."

Attorney General William Barr called current guidelines intended to slow the spread of the virus "draconian" during a Fox News appearance Wednesday night, looking forward to the current date that social distancing recommendations are set to expire, April 30.

"I think when this period of time at the end of April expires, I think we have to allow people to adapt more than we have," said Barr. "Not just tell people to go home and hide under the bed but allow them to use other ways, social distancing and other means, to protect themselves."

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Although projected death totals have fallen, medical experts have been less than optimistic about the idea that the United States will be able to resume business as usual by May. Sergii Zyskо/Getty

Trump's chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow has also expressed an optimistic view, telling Politico earlier in the week that he is hopeful that the economy will be reopened "in four to eight weeks."

More than 10 percent of the U.S. labor force, about 16.7 million people, filed for unemployment between March 14 and April 4, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The all-time U.S. record rate of unemployment was 24.9 percent during the Great Depression, with a post-Depression high of 10.8 percent in December 1982. Experts believe that the pandemic will soon see unemployment easily eclipse 1982 levels.

COVID-19 cases have continued to swell in the U.S. and medical experts believe that infections could peak this month, although few believe that the virus will be contained by May. Even fewer have recommended rolling back social distancing guidelines before the threat has passed.

Although models have recently predicted that U.S. deaths from the virus that could be significantly lower than the 100,000-2000 the administration predicted on March 31, the projections are based on social distancing continuing through May.

Trump recently said he sees "light at the end of tunnel" for the crisis but has not made any firm predictions about when economy would be back in action, after his previous hope of Easter proved unrealistic. He has insisted that any future decisions will "rely heavily" on the advice of public health experts.

"The President wants to see this economy open again so people can get back to work, but scientific data will drive the timeline on those decisions because his number one priority is to protect the safety and well-being of the American people," said White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere in a statement to Newsweek.

Trump's top medical expert on the coronavirus task force, Dr. Anthony Fauci, credited adherence to social distancing guidelines for the decline in predicted death toll but did not seem confident that the country would soon resume business easily or uniformly at Thursday's press briefing.

"Often, people say reopen the government, like it's a light switch on-and-off for the entire country," Fauci said. "We have a very large country with really different patterns of disease and outbreaks in different parts of the country. So, it's not going to be a one size fits all."