Earlier today, President Donald Trump announced he would champion” a new “Opening Our Country Council” and name someone to chair it, the latest move in his plan to reopen the economy as the nation grapples with the novel coronavirus.
The council will likely include a group of business leaders, doctors, governors, and other professionals. It will also be separate from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, which is led by Vice President Mike Pence.
“I don’t know that I’ve had a bigger decision, but I’m going to surround myself with the greatest minds — not only the greatest minds, but the greatest minds in numerous different businesses, including the business of politics and reason, and we’re going to make a decision,” Trump said.
“Hopefully it’s going to be the right decision. I will say this — I want to get it open as soon as we can. We have to get our country open.”
— CBS News (@CBSNews) April 10, 2020
The announcement received significant criticism amid warnings that reopening the economy could imperil people further.
Opening Our Country Council might as well be a death squad. https://t.co/8me8mT0PRJ
— Nina L. Diamond (@ninatypewriter) April 10, 2020
— Resist hateful GOP policies (@hateGOP) April 10, 2020
“Hi I’m here for the Opening Our Country Council of the 2nd task force of the coronavirus task force.” https://t.co/z4zyd1lYGm
— drew bahen (@DrewB804) April 10, 2020
Asked what metrics would be used to justify opening the nation, Trump pointed to his head and said: “The metrics right here. That’s my metrics, that’s all I can do. I can listen to 35 people. At the end, I’ve got to make a decision. But I want to be guided. I’m going to be guided by them. I’m going to be guided by our vice president. I’m going to make a decision based on a lot of different opinions.”
The president had initially planned to open the economy by April 12, in time for Easter Sunday, but was forced to change plans as deaths continued to mount. The novel coronavirus has killed at least 18,430 Americans since the first death was recorded on February 29. The United States is on track to have more deaths from the virus than any country in the world and will soon outpace Italy, which for much of the last month was considered the global epicenter for the pandemic.