US President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that he wants to loosen the coronavirus lockdown in the country and restart the economy within three weeks, calling social distancing measures too disruptive.
Trump said, “A lot of people agree with me. Our country — it’s not built to shut down,” he said on Fox News. “You can destroy a country this way by closing it down”.
“I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter, Easter is on April 12, 19 days away”, he added.
Social distancing and quarantine measures have been instituted across much of the United States, with stay-at-home orders for more than a third of the population, bringing the world’s biggest economy to an abrupt halt.
Health experts have advised the measures as the foundation for preventing the easily transmitted, potentially fatal illness from multiplying uncontrollably.
Trump called for a 15-day period of observation, which expires early next week.
The plunge in activity and warnings of recession or even depression are a brutal reversal for what was until a few weeks ago a humming economy, with record low unemployment.
More than 600 people have died from the new coronavirus in the United States, while the number of confirmed cases has now passed 50,000, a tracker maintained by Johns Hopkins University showed on Tuesday.
The US has the third-highest number of confirmed cases globally, behind China and Italy.
On Monday, Trump signed an executive order prohibiting price gouging and hoarding of medical supplies deemed critical amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in the country.
Earlier, Trump had advised people not to gather in groups of more than 10, one day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended no gatherings with 50 people or more for the next eight weeks.
Last week, the US leader announced a national state of emergency, freeing up $50 billion in federal funds for the battle against the coronavirus pandemic as he vowed to “vastly” ramp up testing capacity.