Trump Suggests Country Could Open Back Up in Segments, Says People Want to Get Back to Work Immediately

President Donald Trump said he expects that "large sections" of the United States could open up before others at the coronavirus task force briefing on Wednesday.

"The sooner we can eventually get people back to work, back to school and back to normal. And there are large sections of our country, probably can go back much sooner than other sections, and we're obviously looking at that also," Trump said, introducing the briefing.

The president then said he'd signed major disaster declarations for a number of states, including New York, California, Washington, Iowa, Louisiana, Texas and Florida. The declarations allow these states to access federal funding for crisis counseling and emergency protective measures.

Trump also clarified that though Americans wanted things to return to normal, he would not act prematurely.

"I'm not going to do rash or hastily, I don't do that. But the country wants to get back to work. Our country was built to get back to work. We don't have a country where they say, 'Hey, let's close it down for two years.' We can't do that. It's not our country. So we're going to be talking, and it could be we'll do sections of our country. There are big sections of our country that are very little affected by what's taken place, then there are other sections that are very heavily affected," Trump said.

Trump again repeated his desire to have a recommendation for Americans to return to work by Easter. The president bristled when a reporter earlier questioned his timeline of the Easter holiday, asking if the timeline was based on his political interests.

"The media would like to see me do poorly in the election," Trump said. "Just so you understand, are you ready? I think there are certain people who would like it not to open so quickly. I think there are certain people that would like it to do financially poorly, because that would do very good as far as defeating me at the polls."

The president then accused the reporter who asked the question of writing "fake news."

Donald Trump Coronavirus Briefing
President Donald Trump speaks at the March 24 coronavirus task force press briefing at the White House. Drew Angerer/Getty

As of Wednesday morning, the U.S. had over 55,000 cases of the coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19. Though the U.S. outbreak started in Washington state, New York has become the state hardest hit by the pandemic, with over 15,000 cases and 192 deaths, accounting for nearly a quarter of the 802 people who have died nationally.

Nearly half of the country's governors have put their states into lockdown, closing all non-essential businesses in their states and ordering citizens to stay home. The initial wave of lockdowns included California, New York and Illinois, three states that make up a quarter of the U.S. economy. Those states have been recently joined by Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana and Louisiana. Some cities have also instituted their own lockdown orders, including Philadelphia. An economics professor predicted Sunday the pandemic could cost the U.S. $7 trillion and cause the worst job losses since the depression.

A coronavirus stimulus package proposed in the Senate would send Americans a check roughly $1,200 per person, as well as provide loans to small businesses and industries hit hard by the pandemic. Despite a version of the bill passing in the House, the Senate rejected the House version of the bill as written and proposed their own changes. These changes have proven controversial, with Democrats alleging that the bill benefits corporations more than average Americans and gives the Treasury Department too much power in determining how to distribute the loans.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of March 25 at 6 a.m.

This infographic shows the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. as of March 25. Statista

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before; during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • If you feel unwell (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and call local health authorities in advance.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.

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