Biden warns of 'second spike' in coronavirus infections if economy is reopened by Easter

Biden warns of 'second spike' in coronavirus infections if economy is reopened by Easter
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Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSome Sanders top allies have urged him to withdraw from 2020 race: report Sunday shows preview: As coronavirus spreads in the U.S., officials from each sector of public life weigh in Trump defends firing of intel watchdog, calling him a 'disgrace' MORE warned on Wednesday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpPelosi eyes end of April to bring a fourth coronavirus relief bill to the floor NBA to contribute 1 million surgical masks to NY essential workers Private equity firm with ties to Kushner asks Trump administration to relax rules on loan program: report MORE’s desire to reopen the U.S. for business by Easter would put the country at risk of a “second spike” of coronavirus infections that could prolong America's outbreak of the pandemic. 

“Now he’s suggesting he wants to get the country opened — back open by Easter,” Biden told reporters in a virtual briefing. “Look, we all want to get back to normal as quickly as possible, but we have a lot to do to make that possible. We have to do it in a smart way — not on some arbitrary or symbolic timeline.”

“It would be a catastrophic thing to do for our people and for our economy if we sent people back to work just as we were beginning to see the impact of social distancing take hold only to unleash a second spike in infections,” he continued. 

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Biden’s remarks came a day after Trump said that he wants to have the U.S. economy restarted by Easter Sunday, April 12, an ambitious goal that flies in the face of warnings from public health experts who say the worst of the coronavirus’s effects on the U.S. are still to come.

“It’s such an important day for other reasons, but I’ll make it an important day for this, too,” Trump said from the White House Rose Garden. “I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter.”

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Trump argued that the economic consequences of the coronavirus outbreak — shuttered businesses, rising unemployment and turbulent financial markets — were more dire than the public health risks of the disease. 

“You are going to lose a number of people to the flu,” Trump said. “But you are going to lose more people by putting a country into a massive recession or depression.”

In his briefing on Wednesday, Biden rejected Trump’s argument, saying that restarting the U.S. economy while Americans are still scrambling to slow the spread of the virus would only prolong the country’s fight against the disease and bring with it long-term consequences.

“That would be far more devastating in the long run than implementing a thorough strategy, a thought-out strategy supported by science and scientists to get Americans back to work,” Biden said. “Because the only way we’ll fully solve the economic challenges is by first solving the public health crisis.”

Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s communications director, said in a statement that Trump was listening to the advice of public health officials including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“President Trump is protecting the health and safety of Americans and also safeguarding the economy. It’s true that our country was not built to be just switched off for an extended period of time,” Murtaugh said. “Joe Biden should listen to Dr. Fauci, who President Trump said he will be very much guided by, along with other scientists and health experts, as he makes these critical decisions. Dr. Fauci has said that President Trump has ‘never’ made a decision that went against the science-based advice he provided.”