As the U.S. plunges more deeply into an economic slump due to the coronavirus shutdowns, President Donald Trump is eager to begin the process of reopening the country. But critics complain that the president will place lives at risk by moving too quickly too soon.
Addressing those concerns, Vice President Mike Pence, head of the White House coronavirus task force, said this week that President Trump will proceed with relaxing restrictions and reopening the nation “at a responsible moment,” Fox News reported.
Reopen the nation “at a time that is responsible”
Speaking with Fox host Laura Ingraham on Tuesday in regard to the tentative plans to begin reopening the nation on or around May 1, Pence said, “President Trump’s made it very clear that he wants to reopen the American economy, but we want to do it at a time that is responsible, can be safe for the American people.”
“And we’re going to be producing new guidance for states across the country to know when that will be possible,” he continued.
The vice president noted that, as task force adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci and other critics have pointed out, a big part of that will be having an adequate supply of tests necessary to ensure that people can resume their normal activities in a safe and healthy manner.
No “one-size-fits-all” plan
Citing concerns expressed by Fauci and others that May 1 might be too “optimistic” of a date for reopening, Ingraham asked if there was any internal “dispute” between Fauci’s admitted “pessimistic” outlook and President Trump’s apparent optimism that things can get going again in the near future.
“Well, let me say that the timing will all be determined by the president when we’re at a responsible moment where we are on track to put the coronavirus in the past, and that’s in the hands of the American people,” the vice president replied.
“Make no mistake about it, we’re going to listen very carefully to our healthcare experts and ensure that we have a sufficient amount of both the diagnostic and the surveillance testing to allow many businesses to reopen,” Pence said.
With regard to the idea of “surveillance testing” and the notion that the government would be able to “track” American citizens as they return to work and normal life, Pence said, “We’ll always protect the privacy and liberty of the American people.”
He also noted, in response to threats of lawsuits from various states opposed to reopening too soon, that the administration would be working in cooperation with each state to tailor a reopening plan that would best suit that state’s particular needs.
Smart and responsible
Contrary to the critiques circulating among the media, Democrats and some health officials, while President Trump and millions of Americans are indeed anxious to reopen the country and get back to work as soon as possible, according to Pence, it is not something that the administration will rush forward with blindly.