On Monday, The New York Times reported that President Donald Trump quietly backed off his repeated pledge that he would like to have businesses and normal economic activity reopen by Easter — and identified a key reason that he changed his mind.
“The numbers the health officials showed President Trump were overwhelming. With the peak of the coronavirus pandemic still weeks away, he was told, hundreds of thousands of Americans could face death if the country reopened too soon,” wrote Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman. “But there was another set of numbers that also helped persuade Mr. Trump to shift gears on Sunday and abandon his goal of restoring normal life by Easter. Political advisers described for him polling that showed that voters overwhelmingly preferred to keep containment measures in place over sending people back to work prematurely.”
“Those two realities — the dire threat to the country and the caution of the American public — proved decisive at a critical juncture in the response to the pandemic, his advisers said,” the report continued. “The first of those two realities, the deadly arc of the virus, has been known for weeks even if disregarded by the president when he set his Easter target. But the second of the two upended Mr. Trump’s assumptions about the politics of the situation and restrained, for a moment at least, his eagerness to get back to business as usual.”
This week, Trump officially extended the social distancing guidelines through the end of April, acknowledging publicly that his prior call for an early end to containment measures were not politically or medically possible.
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