Governors And Mayors Push Back On Trump’s Wish To Reopen Economy Soon

TRENTON, UNITED STATES - APRIL 3, 2020:New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) speaks at the Coronavirus press briefing in Trenton.
TRENTON, UNITED STATES - APRIL 3, 2020: New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) speaks at the Coronavirus press briefing in Trenton.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Michael Brochstein / Echoes Wire/ Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing (... TRENTON, UNITED STATES - APRIL 3, 2020: New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) speaks at the Coronavirus press briefing in Trenton.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Michael Brochstein / Echoes Wire/ Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing (Photo credit should read Michael Brochstein / Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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April 12, 2020 5:25 p.m.
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Governors and mayors throughout the country expressed on Sunday that they aren’t on the same page as President Trump when it comes to reopening the economy, given how the country continues to grapple with the world’s largest COVID-19 outbreak.

During a White House coronavirus task force briefing on Friday, Trump signaled that he’d like to begin loosening social distancing measures after the White House’s 30-days guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19 expire at the end of the month.

After saying that setting a timeline for reopening the economy will be “the biggest decision” he’s ever had to make, Trump announced that he would form a task force designed to develop a plan for it while also vowing to “certainly listen” to public health experts before officially coming to a decision.

However, governors and mayors ultimately have the say regarding the enforcement of stay-at-home orders in their respective states and cities. While they agree with Trump that Americans are eager to return to work, they also argued the importance of putting health and safety first.

Here’s how they reacted to Trump’s desire to reopen the economy as soon as next month:

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D-NJ)

When asked on CNN if parts of New Jersey will be ready to begin reopening on May 1, Murphy said that he “will be the happiest guy” if that were to happen, but there needs to be a “health recovery first” before an “economic recovery.”

“It has to come in that sequencing,” Murphy said. “And I fear, if we open up too early, and we have not sufficiently made that health recovery and cracked the back of this virus, that we could be pouring gasoline on the fire, even inadvertently.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D)

After acknowledging that New York state wants to reopen as soon as possible during a Sunday morning briefing, Cuomo said that “we need to be smart in the way we reopen.”

“What does smart mean? It means a coordinated approach, a regional approach, and a safe approach,” Cuomo said. “Nobody wants to pick between a public health strategy and an economic strategy. And as governor of this state, I’m not going to pick one over the other.”

Cuomo added that “the last thing” his state needs is “an uptick” in the COVID-19 infection rate that “we worked so hard to bring down.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R)

Asked whether he sees the reopening of the economy happening in Maryland on May 1 during an interview on ABC, Hogan responded that he hasn’t “gotten any kind of an artificial deadline on that.”

“Look, everybody wants to get the country back on track as quickly as we can, as long as we do it in a safe manner because we’ve got this twin problem of this terrible health crisis where we’ve got tens of thousands of people dying and yet we also have this incredible economic challenge where we got, you know, millions of people that are unemployed and small businesses being hurt everywhere,” Hogan said.

Hogan went on to argue that when it comes to reopening the economy, “you can’t just pick a date and flip a switch.”

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM)

A day after New Mexico became the latest state to extend its ban on mass gatherings to include houses of worship, CNN’s Jake Tapper pressed Lujan Grisham about Trump considering loosening up social distancing guidelines as soon as May 1, citing how she  predicted the peak in her state could come as late as the end of May.

“Well, we’re going to make the decisions that safeguard New Mexicans, right?” Lujan Grisham said. “Everything we do is about protecting lives and first responders and our health care workers.”

Lujan Grisham then explained how the lack of a national strategy poses problems before reiterating that she’s “going to do whatever is right for New Mexico.”

“We have begun looking at recovery options, but we aren’t going to do anything until that peak occurs,” Lujan Grisham said. “And we’re clear about not having hospitalizations and reducing the number of people that are positive every day in our surveillance and testing efforts.”

Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D)

Upon Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace asking whether she’d listen to Trump if he lifts stay-at-home guidelines at the end of this month, Bowser said that both “the most optimistic models” and the ones that the White House coronavirus task force have repeatedly pointed to are based on keeping stay-at-home directives in place through the end of May.

After Bowser said that she’s looking at “staying periods of decreasing infection” as well as decreasing hospitalizations to determine when the city should reopen its economy, Wallace pressed her on whether she’s saying she won’t follow the President’s direction despite residing in the same city.

“I’m saying that we’re going to follow what the data on the ground tells us,” Bowser said. “As we have heard directly, the President hasn’t issued any stay-at- home orders for any jurisdiction in the United States of America. And we are looking to our own experience in Washington, D.C.”

Bowser then added that the confirmation of a sustained decrease in infections and hospitalizations would be a “trigger” that would indicate “how we can start to get our economy going again.”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D)

Asked by CBS’ Margaret Brennan on whether she plans to open up Chicago by next month, Lightfoot responded that she agrees “100%” with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s approach.

“We cannot open up the economy until we make sure that we’ve got all the healthcare controls in place,” Lightfoot said. “That means widespread testing, contact tracing, and we’ve got to see not just a flattening of the curve, but a bending down.”

Key Coronavirus Crisis Links

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COVID-19 Tracking Project (updated data on testing and infections in the U.S.).
Johns Hopkins Global COVID-19 Survey (most up to date numbers globally and for countries around the world).
Worldometers.info (extensive source of information and data visualizations on COVID-19 Crisis — discussion of data here).
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