White House mulls guidelines on reopening economy as COVID-19 cases exceed 580,000

Photo taken on March 24, 2020 shows the New York Stock Exchange in New York, the United States. (Xinhua/Wang Ying)

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday his administration is close to completing a plan to open the economy, noting that he would have "total" authority to do that.



"We will soon finalize new and important guidelines to give governors the information they need to start safely opening their states," Trump told reporters at a White House briefing.



"We want to have our country open, we want to return to normal life. Our country will reopen successfully," he said.



When asked whether he would have the power to open or close state economies, Trump said "the authority of the president of the United States having to do with the subject we are talking about is total."

New York, New Jersey and four other northeastern states are setting up a working group to coordinate plans to restart the economy, while California, Washington and Oregon on the West Coast have said they would work on their guidelines together.



"The West Coast is guided by science. We issued stay at home orders early to keep the public healthy. We'll open our economies with that same guiding principle," California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Twitter Monday.



The White House is facing mounting pressure from business executives and advocacy groups to reopen the U.S. economy, as measures to slow the spread of the virus have led to growing economic fallout, with a staggering 16.8 million Americans filing initial jobless claims in a three-week period ending April 4.



According to Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE)'s semiannual Global Economics Prospects outlook released Friday, the U.S. output is expected to shrink by 8.0 percent in 2020, and unemployment rate will probably peak around 20 percent in the early summer.

"There're economic risks in both directions," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said at the White House briefing.



When asked whether he would consult with health experts before opening up the economy, the U.S. president gave an affirmative answer.



As of Monday night, over 580,000 confirmed cases have been reported across the United States, with death toll surpassing 23,000, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.



Deborah Birx, coronavirus response coordinator for the Task Force, told reporters at the briefing that "those curves are already starting to plateau."

 


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