Trump wants to reopen the US economy on Easter because he'd like 'packed churches all over our country' despite massive public health risk

insider@insider.com (Eliza Relman)
U.S. President Donald Trump appears on the South Portico of the White House with the Easter Bunny standing behind him as the annual White House Easter Egg Roll is held on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 2, 2018.

Carlos Barria/Reuters

  • President Donald Trump announced on Fox News on Tuesday that he's aiming to scale back social distancing guidelines to fight the coronavirus by Easter
  • When asked by Fox News' Bill Hemmer why he chose April 12 as the day to reopen the economy, Trump said it would be great to have "packed churches all over our country" despite experts' warnings that the highly-infectious virus will still be spreading throughout the country. 
  • On March 16, the federal government issued guidelines recommending that Americans avoid gatherings larger than 10 people to slow the spread of the virus. 
  • On Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that experts believe New York's coronavirus outbreak will reach an apex in about 14 to 21 days.  He said the virus could spread in the state for up to nine months. 
  • Trump repeatedly downplayed and made a host of unsubstantiated claims about the public health threat posed by the pandemic during his Tuesday town hall
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President Donald Trump announced on Fox News on Tuesday that he's aiming to scale back social distancing guidelines to fight the coronavirus by Easter because he wants to see "packed churches all over our country." 

When asked by Fox News' Bill Hemmer why he chose April 12 as the day to reopen the economy, Trump said Easter is a "very special day for me." 

"Wouldn't it be great to have all of the churches full? You know the churches aren't allowed, essentially, to have much of a congregation there," Trump said. "You'll have packed churches all over our country. I think it would be a beautiful time." 

He added, "I'm not sure that's going to be the day, but I would love to aim it right at Easter." 

First Lady Melania Trump canceled the White House Easter Egg Roll last week in response to the pandemic. 

Scientists and public health experts agree that millions of Americans should stay home as businesses and schools close in an effort to contain the spread of the highly-infectious virus. On March 16, the federal government issued guidelines recommending that Americans avoid gatherings larger than 10 people, home school their children, and avoid travel, among other social distancing measures. 

On Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that experts believe New York's coronavirus infections will reach an apex in about 14 to 21 days. Easter is in 19 days. 

And World Health Organization warned on Tuesday that the US could soon become the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris, told a press conference in Geneva on Tuesday there had been a "very large acceleration" in US cases in recent days, according to Reuters.

Trump repeatedly downplayed the public health threat posed by the pandemic and insisted without evidence that more Americans will die if the country remains on lockdown than if the economy reopens and the virus spreads more widely during a Fox News "virtual townhall" on Tuesday.

 

The president also insisted that the economic damage from the response to the virus will be more damaging than the loss of life — an assertion even some of his most vocal supporters have condemned.

"We had the best economy in the history of our country and then all of a sudden we're supposed to shut it down," Trump said, adding of the response to the pandemic, "It's been very painful for our country and very destabilizing for our country and we have to go back to work."

The president also claimed on Tuesday that Americans can practice adequate social distancing while at work if they stop shaking hands and wash their hands more frequently. 

"We have to open this country up," Trump said. "We can socially distance ourselves and go to work and you'll have to work a little bit harder and you can clean your hands five times more than you're used to, you don't have to shake hands anymore with people." 

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