President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin have reportedly been discussing potential plans to discontinue the White House’s tight social distancing guidelines in an effort to juice the sagging economy amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
The White House had issued an official recommendation last Monday urging Americans to stay away from work (with the exception of those in the “critical infrastructure industry”) and avoid bars, restaurants, and unnecessary shopping trips for the next 15 days. By Thursday, Trump had already begun mulling ways to scale back the guidelines and pull workers back to their places of employment, according to Bloomberg News.
The report on the discussions came on Monday morning after Trump posted a cryptic tweet in all-caps about “the cure” (presumably referencing the 15-day guidelines) at around midnight.
“WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” he tweeted late Sunday night. “AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!”
Media Matters News Director John Whitehouse noted that Trump, who often blasts out tweets based on what he had just seen on cable television, tweeted the post after Fox News host Steven Hilton claimed “working Americans” will be “crushed” by social distancing measures.
“You know that famous phrase ‘the cure is worse than the disease?’ That is exactly the territory we are hurtling towards,” Hilton declared. “You think it’s just the coronavirus that kills people? This total economic shutdown will kill people.”
Trump also spent his Monday morning retweeting various accounts calling for a lift on workers’ restrictions after the 15-day period.
On Monday afternoon, White House Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow seemed to confirm Trump’s stance on the issue.
“The President is right. The cure can’t be worse than the disease and we’re going to have to make difficult trade-offs,” Kudlow told Fox News host Ed Henry.
The Treasury did not immediately responded to request for comment.