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Donald Trump speaks in the White House yesterday evening
Donald Trump speaks in the White House yesterday evening
Image: Chris Kleponis/PA Images

'Our country is meant to be open': Donald Trump could remove Covid-19 restrictions by next week

Trump said that state governors would have the final say on any measures he introduced.
Mar 24th 2020, 7:44 AM 65,164 77

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump has said he will soon call for lifting a lockdown imposed in some parts of the country as a result of the coronavirus.

Trump told reporters that he would open the US to business “because our country is meant to be open”.

A relaxation of measures could be announced early next week, when a 15-day period recommending tight restrictions on social distancing expires.

However, Trump said that state governors would have the final say on any measures he introduced.

Health officials and state governors dealing with the worst outbreaks have said they expect restrictions will have to continue for some time, with New York’s mayor Bill de Blasio called for a nationwide lockdown.

The number of deaths in the United States from Covid-19 has risen to 560, with more than 46,000 declared cases.

Trump said he wanted to get restrictions on movement lifted where possible, so that people can get back to work. He acknowledged that medical advisors focused more on public health than the economy may not agree with his decision.

“The doctors, if it were up to them, they may say ‘let’s keep it shut down, let’s shut down the entire world,’” said Trump.

“We can’t do that and you can’t do that with the country especially the number one economy anywhere in the world by far.”

Around a third of the US population is living in some kind of lockdown.

Yesterday, Washington state, Michigan and New Mexico became the latest to sign a “shelter-in-place” order, as Ohio’s and Louisiana’s took effect.

In California, already under orders to stay home, Governor Gavin Newsom tightened the lockdown to shut parking lots at beaches and parks after tens of thousands flouted social distancing rules.

US Surgeon General Jerome Adams warned that case numbers across America were going to get worse before they get better.

“We really need everyone to understand this is serious, to lean into what they can do to flatten the curve.”

‘It’s going to be bad’

New York found itself the US bullseye of the global pandemic.

Over  20,000 cases have been declared in the state, more than 5% of the world’s total.

Millions of residents have been ordered to stay home and non-essential businesses and schools have been closed.

New York City has now seen more than 12,000 confirmed cases and almost 100 deaths in the outbreak, which first appeared in the United States in Washington state.

De Blasio warned that New York was just at “the beginning” of dealing with the pandemic as soldiers from the National Guard began converting a convention centre into a facility with hospital beds.

“It’s going to be bad this week, it’s going to be worse the following week,” he said.

He added that the city’s overwhelmed public hospitals have only enough medical supplies to last the week and pleaded with the federal government to speed up production.

“I literally want to see hundreds of ventilators, I want to see first hundreds of thousands and millions of masks.

“If that doesn’t come in starting this week, we will get to a point where people can’t be saved who could have been saved,” he said.

With reporting from - © AFP 2020's coronavirus newsletter cuts through the misinformation and noise with the clear facts you need to make informed choices. Sign up here

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