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Pence Says Easter Sunday Coronavirus Deadline Is ‘Aspirational Goal’

Chuck Ross 

Vice President Mike Pence said Friday that President Donald Trump’s hope of reopening the U.S. economy by Easter, April 12, is an “aspirational goal,” and that mitigation efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus will have to remain in place in certain parts of the country for the foreseeable future.

“We think the more we do that, the more we can hasten the day that the president said — he would love to see it around Easter — but whenever that day is, that we can responsibly reopen up portions of the country,” Pence said in an interview on CNBC.

“There’s going to be areas of the country where we need to continue to lean into mitigation efforts,” he continued, singling out New York City, New Orleans, Detroit and Seattle as areas that are likely to remain shut down well beyond Easter.

The White House issued guidelines on March 16 recommending against discretionary travel or visiting bars, restaurants and other non-essential businesses for 15 days. Governors and mayors across the United States have implemented many of the guidelines, with some shutting down businesses well into April.

Health experts say that so-called social distancing measures are needed in order to slow the spread of coronavirus and prevent hospitals from being overburdened. The lockdown has already had major economic repercussions. More than 3 million Americans filed for unemployment last week.

“I would love to have the country opened up, and they are just raring to go, by Easter,” Trump said at a Fox News town hall on Tuesday.

He said Wednesday that the Easter timeline is not set in stone, and that he will rely on advice from the White House coronavirus task force.

But Trump is apparently itching to get back to business as usual. He said in a letter Thursday to governors across the country that the White House will soon issue guidance on potentially relaxing coronavirus guidelines.

Trump did not set a date for issuing updated guidelines.

“The president expressed, really, an aspirational goal,” Pence said of the Easter timeline.

“There’s going to be areas of the country where we need to continue to lean into mitigation efforts.”

Pence’s comments echo those from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top expert on infectious disease and a member of the White House coronavirus task force.

Fauci said Thursday that Easter is an “aspirational projection to give people some hope.”

Fauci said that Trump is listening to the task force’s advice that decisions on when to  “has to be based on the data.”

“When you have a situation when the cases today compared to tomorrow is increased dramatically and then the next day’s increased dramatically, that’s no time to pull back. That’s when you’ve got to hunker down, nail down, mitigate, mitigate, mitigate.”

 

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Image: CNBC video screenshot

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