New York, March 25 : Very large sections of the US could be open for business again by Easter next month based on expert advice US President Donald Trump has said as the country faces an economic crisis and massive layoffs.
"My first priority is always the health and safety of the American people, and we want everyone to understand that we are continuing to evaluate the data," he said at his news briefing on Tuesday.
Ultimately state governors and local officials will determine if the restrictions like the Stay-at-Home orders imposed on 17 states will continue and for how long.
The other states accounting for half the US population do not mandate such stringent measures because the Trump administration has only issued guidelines for stopping COVID-19 from spreading, and not orders.
The main point in the guidelines is asking people to keep distance from each other and that has led to the closure of businesses and educational institutions in the states following them.
The guidelines are set to expire next week.
Trump said he chose Easter, which falls on April 12, as the possible day to loosen the stringent guidelines that restrict crowds to prevent contagion because it is "a beautiful time."
Easter commemorates the Christian belief that Jesus came back from the dead on that day.
Democrat Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Trump's proposal is a "formula for more uncertainty, more misconceptions" and will do "more harm to the economy."
Anthony Fauci, an internationally acknowledged medical expert, who is on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said that Trump's proposal was "really very flexible."
"People might get the misinterpretation you're just going to lift everything up and, even if somebody going like that..that's not going to happen," he said.
He said that while the situation is dire in places like New York, there are other areas that are very different.
"You may not want to essentially treat it as it (is) just one force for the entire country, but look at flexibility in different areas," he added.
Trump said that he would be looking at the Farm Belt of midwestern states and Texas that so far have had few cases of COVID-19.
Trump gave the assurance, "I will be guided very much by Dr.
Fauci and by Deborah (Birx, the other international expert on the task force) and by some of the other professionals."
Earlier on Fox News, Trump reiterated his assertion that the cure can be worse than the problem -- the measures to deal with COVID-19 can cause greater harm to the economy.
He said that if the economic conditions with massive layoffs and unemployment worsened it could lead to suicides and other social problem.
Trump's Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow said, "We're not abandoning the health professionals' advice but there is a clamour to try to reopen the economy, perhaps make it less of a shut-in."
While large geographic areas of the country have not yet been affected seriously, there is a danger of COVID-19 spreading there due to travel and some states are beginning to take action.
Florida has ordered those flying in from the New York to self-quarantine themselves for 14 days.
Rhode Island has asked visitors to self-quarantine for 14 days and Hawaii has restricted visitors from the mainland.
Birx has asked anyone who has been in the New York metro area recently to self-isolate themselves.
(Arul Louis can be contacted at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @arulouis)