U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he wants the U.S. economy to open back up by Easter Sunday, that's less than 3 weeks away, even as the number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the U.S. continue to climb.
The president is giving a specific timeline to an idea he floated on Monday.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING:
"America will again and soon be open for business, very soon. A lot sooner than three or four months that somebody was suggesting, a lot sooner. We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself. We're not going to let the cure be worse than the problem."
As the economy has ground to a halt, predictions for unemployment and a deep recession have grown more dire.
But health experts warn that easing restrictions too soon could dangerously backfire, leading to both a higher death count and people too scared to go out.
The nation's governors, who have put in place the most strident social distancing edicts, are pushing back.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) NEW YORK GOVERNOR, ANDREW CUOMO, SAYING:
"If you ask the American people to choose between public health and the economy, then it's no contest. No American is going to say, 'accelerate the economy at the cost of human life.'"
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose state has become the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S. said on Tuesday that the rate of infection is now doubling every three days in New York and that the worst of the outbreak could arrive in 14 to 21 days, putting huge pressure on health services.
Republican Representative Liz Cheney on Twitter also cautioned the president against moving too fast, saying: "There will be no normally functioning economy if our hospitals are overwhelmed and thousands of Americans of all ages, including our doctors and nurses, lay dying because we have failed to do what’s necessary to stop the virus."
This as the World Health Organization, citing a "very large acceleration" in infections, warned that - even with the current measures in place - the United States could soon become the global epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.