(Reuters) – Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said on Wednesday that potential efforts by President Donald Trump to re-open American businesses in time for the Easter holiday could be “catastrophic.”
The governors of at least 18 states, including New York and California, have issued stay-at-home directives affecting about half the U.S. population, and shuttering many businesses, in a costly effort to slow the deadly pathogen’s spread.
Trump on Tuesday told reporters he would like to see businesses opening their doors again by Easter, which will be celebrated on April 12. “I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” he said on Fox News Channel.
Biden, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination to face Trump in the November election, said a quick return to normalcy could backfire.
“Now he’s suggesting he wants to get the country back opened by Easter,” Biden told reporters on a video conference, warning that it was an 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,” Biden said. “That’d be far more devastating in the long run.”
Biden has been critical of Trump’s response to the coronavirus, saying that a delayed effort to scramble tests and medical equipment meant Americans would be hit harder and take longer to recover. On Tuesday, he said on MSNBC that it “would be a real resurrection” to see American businesses re-open by Easter.
Biden also called on businesses and investors to be guided by “the science of medicine” and “not the science of Wall Street” as they weigh what path is best for the economy.
Trump and his coronavirus team on March 16 put in place recommendations for people across the country to cut down social and professional interactions for 15 days in a bid to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Public health experts have said the timing for ending such orders must be flexible and based on medical research.
Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Leslie Adler
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