President Donald Trump on Friday suggested he would use his own judgment, not any particular economic or health metrics, to decide when to reopen the economy.
Asked by a reporter at his administration’s daily briefing on the coronavirus pandemic what metrics he would use to determine when to reopen the economy, Trump pointed to his head. “The metrics right here,” he said. “That’s my metrics. That’s all I can do.”
Trump said he would take the opinions of his medical advisers ― including Surgeon General Jerome Adams and Dr. Anthony Fauci ― into account, but would also listen to the guidance of Vice President Mike Pence and others.
The coronavirus pandemic has shut down wide swaths of the American economy and has caused 18,000 deaths in the U.S. so far. Some Trump advisers and business leaders have lobbied the president to end the social distancing measures and closures meant to battle the spread of the disease soon in order to start rebuilding the economy and help the president win reelection.
But many medical experts have warned full economic activity won’t be able to resume for a month or more, and fear a second spike in the number of infections and deaths if government officials attempt to rush the reopening of society.
The president also repeated his false assertions that the U.S. is leading the world in testing for the novel coronavirus and that rural areas with few reported cases of the disease don’t need resources to conduct more tests.
“There’s not a lot of issues with testing,” Trump said at the briefing. “You don’t have to test every person in the state of Iowa. You don’t need to test every single person to say let’s open up, and say let’s get the tractors moving, let’s get the corn.”
Medical experts believe the spread of the virus, and potentially the death count, is underestimated because a lack of available coronavirus tests in many parts of the country. Trump, who promised last month that every American who wants a test would soon be able to access one, has lately downplayed the need for a national testing regime before the nation’s economy reopens.
“We’re leading the world now in testing, by far,” Trump said. While the U.S. has conducted more tests than any other country, a smaller portion of the country’s population has been tested than in nations like Switzerland, Germany and Canada.