President Trump said his decision to institute travel restrictions and a social distancing advisory amid the coronavirus pandemic was one of the toughest choices he’s ever made.
The president and the federal government have decided to limit travel from certain areas, and the White House is about midway through its 15-day plan to “slow the spread” of the COVID-19 virus, which encourages people to limit their public exposure to prevent transferring the illness. Meanwhile, the stock market has plummeted during the panic.
Trump was discussing the strong economic success of the first part of his administration and how the United States stacked up to China during a virtual Fox News town hall on Tuesday afternoon when he pivoted to the difficulties behind opting to “close up” the country.
“China was going to overtake us in the year 2019,” Trump said. “It wasn’t even close. We went way up, and they didn’t. We’ve done great. They pay us a fortune in tariffs and everything else. And yet we have a good relationship with them. We just signed a trade deal. We’re the No. 1 in the world by far. And now, a few people walk into the Oval Office, say, ‘Sir, we have to close up the country.’ I said, ‘What are you talking about?’”
He continued, “One of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made. Because I knew that when you do it — as soon as you do it, you are going to drop — they are talking about 20 or 25 points of GDP. Nobody’s ever heard of 25 points. If we went down a point, that’s a big deal. Now, all of the sudden, you’re basically turning off the country. I said, ‘This has never been done before.'”
Later in the interview, the president said he’d like to have the country reopened by Easter, which is on April 12 this year. More than 46,000 people have been diagnosed with the virus in the U.S., while more than 500 have died, according to NBC News.