Signaling his growing impatience at the measures his own administration has put in place in order to halt the spread of the coronavirus, President Trump said he hoped the nation would return to normal activity by Easter, which this year falls on April 12.
That suggests that the stay-at-home guidance issued by his own coronavirus task force will be lifted sooner than most public health professionals believe is appropriate. “I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” he said Tuesday during what was billed as a Fox News coronavirus town hall with the president and other members of the task force, including Vice President Mike Pence.
Easter marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the Christian faith. As such, using that day as a marker for returning to work, and opening restaurants and other businesses, could bear obvious significance to many Americans.
But it could also be too early.
China, for example, is only now lifting parts of Hubei province, where the virus originated, from strict lockdown provisions. Those provisions were in place for two months, during which time they were strictly enforced by the authoritarian regime in Beijing.
As a free and open society, the United States could hardly execute and enforce the kinds of restrictive practices that helped China climb out of the depths of the coronavirus outbreak. Last week, however, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a 15-day directive that called for people to minimize social interaction and stay home when possible.
Some states that have been hit hard by the virus, including California and New York, have essentially issued stay-in-place orders, and there is little Trump could do to force them to lift those mandates. At the same time, Republican governors allied with Trump could come to embrace Easter as the endpoint of their own efforts.
That would potentially have the effect of turning the United States into a public health patchwork, one where people living only a few miles apart are taking radically different precautions. Read more