House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday fiercely disagreed with President Donald Trump’s suggestion that he may soon lift pandemic restrictions to restart the economy, saying that the primary goal should be to stop the spread of coronavirus.
CNN anchor Dana Bash asked Pelosi about the president’s recent tweets suggesting he would consider easing up on isolation guidelines soon, even though health professionals have advised this could have disastrous consequences.
The leading House Democrat weighed in on what should take priority: health or the economy.
“Well, there doesn’t have to be a contradiction there,” Pelosi said. “Our economy will thrive when our people are well and able to go back to work in groups… and our children can go back to school,” Pelosi replied. “But central to all of that is stopping the spread of disease.”
As the exchange with Bash grew heated, Pelosi said she didn’t have time for the president’s Twitter antics and would prefer to follow the advice of experts, whom she praised for working around the clock to find a path forward through the crisis.
“Rather than waste any time on commenting on the president, I would rather spend our time focusing on the fact that any president or anybody with responsibility should be scientifically inclined. Evidence-based data, what is going to make the difference. I think the cure is the biggest message of hope that is out there.”
Pelosi said she’d prefer for now to avoid the “what ifs” of how this could have unfolded had Trump heeded scientists.
During a Monday night press briefing, Trump said he planned to start “opening our country up for business because our country was meant to be open.”
The number of confirmed cases in the U.S. has now climbed above 44,000 with 544 deaths recorded, and Trump himself acknowledged that doctors advise that normal activities should not yet resume.
“If it were up to the doctors, they may say, ’Let’s keep it shut down ― let’s shut down the entire world,” the president said. “You can’t do that with a country ― especially the No. 1 economy anywhere in the world, by far … you can’t do that. It causes bigger problems than the original.”
The administration is discussing several phases of lifting the 15-day isolation guidelines once the deadline passes Monday. Scientists have reiterated that people congregating in groups pose inevitable risks of a spike in cases, given that many can carry the virus without exhibiting symptoms.