The White House aims to reopen the U.S. economy as soon as possible to allow tens of millions of people who have been told to stay at home to fight the spread of the CCP virus to return to work, according to statements from President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser Larry Kudlow and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
“The president is very much looking at how we can reopen parts of the economy,” Mnuchin said. “There are parts of the country, like New York, where obviously this is very, very concerning. There are other parts of the country where it’s not.”
Amid the pandemic, restaurants, hotels, bars, salons, entertainment venues, and a number of businesses deemed nonessential have been ordered to halt operations. More than 40 states have implemented stay-at-home orders, affecting nearly all aspects of daily life.
More than 10 million Americans have claimed unemployment benefits after being laid off because of the shutdown. Some experts project that the U.S. unemployment rat may surpass 20 percent in the coming months as more businesses go under.
Congress passed and the president signed a $2.2 trillion stimulus package that will directs the government to sent $1,200 payments to millions of Americans, provide “forgivable” loans to businesses to cover their payroll and other expenses and prop up the airline industry, among other measures.
Kudlow told Fox on April 6 that a contingency plan has been formulated by the White House to help the economy as the outbreak subsides, after indications that New York, which has been the epicenter of the pandemic in the nation, has shown signs that the state is nearing the peak of the outbreak.
“The president would like to reopen the economy as soon as he can and we are planning internally,” Kudlow said, adding that the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus is what will determine when the economy can be reopened. “I am hoping … we’re only a few weeks away from a reopening. We’ll see.”
As of April 7, there have been more than 11,800 deaths and more than 379,000 confirmed cases of the CCP virus, which causes the disease COVID-19, in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. On April 6, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo stated that the number of new hospitalizations and intensive care admissions appeared to be plateauing in New York, sparking some optimism from top White House officials.
“Everybody who knows me knows that I am very conservative about making projections, but those are the kind of good signs that you look for,” White House task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci said during a televised briefing on April 6. “That’s the first thing you see when you start to see the turnaround.”
The White House is also considering coronavirus “war bonds” to fund the federal response to the pandemic. Kudlow said the federal government, like most Americans, should make the most of low interest rates.
The U.S. government has had little trouble finding people willing to lend it money so far, even without anything branded as “war bonds.” It’s been able to borrow at interest rates near record lows despite ballooning deficits, as investors around the world look for safe places to park cash.
Stocks on Wall Street jumped on Monday and closed nearly unchanged on Tuesday after some of the hardest-hit areas around the world offered sparks of hope that the worst of the CCP virus outbreak may be on the horizon. Crude oil fell, giving up some of its huge gains from the prior week when expectations rose that Saudi Arabia and Russia may cut back on some of their production.
In a rare move, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday he will attempt to swiftly pass additional funds for small businesses to keep making payroll as Congress rushes to provide more aid during the coronavirus crisis.
The Republican leader plans a vote this week to supplement the $350 billion approved for companies in the just-passed $2.2 trillion rescue package with an immediate additional $250 billion or so, according to GOP operatives. The so-called Paycheck Protection Program “may run dry” without it, McConnell said. Mnuchin was expected to outline the request later Tuesday.
Ivan Pentchoukov and the Associated Press contributed to this report.