While local governments in Texas continue to clamp down amid the Chinese coronavirus outbreak, President Donald Trump says an end to the crisis may come sooner than expected.
In a Fox News virtual townhall special on Tuesday, Trump and other members of his coronavirus task force took questions on the federal response to the outbreak and its economic effects, which have been felt across the nation as the economy has all but shut down in order to contain the spread of the virus.
When asked to pin down a timeline for the economy to reopen, Trump signaled that he was working to ensure a timely end to what has effectively amounted to a national shutdown.
“It’s not built to shut down. Our people are full of vim and vigor and energy. They don’t want to be locked in a house or an apartment or some space,” said Trump. “You can destroy a country this way, by closing it down.”
When pressed for a date, Trump did not evade the question.
“I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” he said, noting the significance of the day.
For reference, the president’s Easter deadline would fall on April 12.
“You will have packed churches all over our country. I think it would be a beautiful time, and it is just about the timeline that I think is right.”
The remarks were far from isolated, as Trump has given other indications he would like to see an end to the restrictions soon. Earlier on Tuesday, Trump echoed previous statements he had made on Twitter, remarking that the “cure cannot be worse (by far) than the problem.”
Our people want to return to work. They will practice Social Distancing and all else, and Seniors will be watched over protectively & lovingly. We can do two things together. THE CURE CANNOT BE WORSE (by far) THAN THE PROBLEM! Congress MUST ACT NOW. We will come back strong!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2020
While the Easter declaration is far from written in stone, if the federal government were to wind back social distancing recommendations in that timeline, it would no doubt create conflict with mayors and county judges across Texas who have appeared to relish the opportunity to don their “disaster-casual” embroidered jackets while mandating the closure of bars, restaurants, and churches.
Counties and cities across the state have even taken to mandating so-called “stay-at-home” orders that will cripple local economies and citizens for weeks to come.
For example, while some counties such as Dallas and Harris have implemented their orders through April 3, the date when Gov. Greg Abbott’s emergency order expires, Travis County and the city of Austin have implemented their order through April 13. These dates could also be extended.
But not all lawmakers are signaling measures should be walked back anytime soon. In a press conference on Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott suggested that Texas may need “stricter enforcement.”
“It’s clear to me that we may not be achieving the level of compliance that is needed,” Abbott said.
It remains to be seen whether or not a shift in direction from Trump and the federal government will cause local officials to ease up on their restrictions.