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President Donald Trump said the notion of creating a second White House coronavirus task force to examine how best to reopen the country’s economy was a “good idea.”
Trump tweeted an endorsement Saturday of a plan offered by Dana Perino, former press secretary to President George W. Bush.
Perino, now a political commentator on Fox News, suggested assembling “a nonpartisan/bipartisan mix of experts across industry sectors” who could advise the president about overcoming the economic difficulties stemming from harsh social districting measures suggested by the federal government.
Perino said this group would complement the team led by Vice President Mike Pence, which includes health, national security and emergency preparedness officials. “Let 1st task force focus on crisis at the moment,” Perino tweeted.
While the president complimented the idea, he didn’t say whether he would follow through. The White House declined to comment when asked if Trump would pursue the idea.
The task force led by Pence already includes members of the administration focused on economic matters, including National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
The president has spoken repeatedly about his desire to lift restrictions on the country as quickly as possible to limit the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The administration has examined options for loosening restrictions on geographic areas without many coronavirus cases, or for certain demographics seen as less susceptible to serious complications from Covid-19 if infected.
But this week Trump abandoned his proposed target of reopening the economy by April 12, Easter Sunday, after a briefing from the health experts on his task force showed dire projections about the likely death toll from coronavirus. Instead, the president extended social distancing guidelines through the end of April.
Still, Trump has said that he wants to make sure that the “cure” for the pandemic — which has killed more than 7,800 Americans — isn’t worse than the disease itself.
“If it were up to the doctors, they may say let’s keep it shut down, let’s shut down the entire world,” Trump told reporters in March.
“So let’s shut down the entire world and when we shut it down, that would be wonderful and let’s keep it shut for a couple of years. You know, we can’t do that and you can’t do that with the country, especially the number one economy anywhere in the world by far. Number one economy in the world. You can’t do that.”
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