The president and governors who will decide when to reopen their states are facing competing pressures. More economic activity and travel will likely lead to more people contracting COVID-19. But tight restrictions on which businesses can operate are causing millions of people to join the ranks of the unemployed. AP photo

Trump advisers cite need to stop ‘permanent’ economic toll

‘If we do this carefully, working with the governors, I don’t think there’s a considerable risk’

WASHINGTON — Some of President Donald Trump’s top economic advisers emphasized on Sunday the importance of states getting more businesses and offices open even as the pandemic makes its way to the White House complex, forcing three members of the administration’s coronavirus task force into self-quarantine.

The president and governors who will decide when to reopen their states are facing competing pressures. More economic activity and travel will likely lead to more people contracting COVID-19. But tight restrictions on which businesses can operate are causing millions of people to join the ranks of the unemployed. Decisions about how fast to reopen come with a general election less than six months away, and Trump and other incumbents facing the prospects of seeking another term in the midst of a public health and economic crisis.

“If we do this carefully, working with the governors, I don’t think there’s a considerable risk,”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Matter of fact, I think there’s a considerable risk of not reopening. You’re talking about what would be permanent economic damage to the American public.”

Another 3.2 million U.S. workers applied for jobless benefits last week, bringing the total over the last seven weeks to 33.5 million as states restrict activities to slow the spread of the virus. Mnuchin said the jobless numbers “are probably going to get worse before they get better,” but he expected the economic numbers to improve in the second half of 2020 and that next year would be a “great year.”

Gov. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, announced this past week that his state’s bars and restaurants can fully reopen in two weeks, on May 21, with outside dining allowed a few days earlier. Barbershops, hair salons, nail salons and day spas will also reopen this coming Friday.

He said he wished the number of coronavirus cases were going down, but the state needs to come back “very carefully.”

“We’ve got to try to do two things at once and it’s, you know, no one is underestimating how difficult this is, but it’s something that we have to do,” DeWine said on Fox.

The White House dispatched several of its top economic advisers to hit the Sunday talk shows. The appearances came on the heels of three key advisers, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, taking new precautionary steps after coming into contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID-19.

Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and has become nationally known for his simple and direct explanations to the public about the coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease it causes. Also quarantining are Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Stephen Hahn.

Fauci’s institute said that he has tested negative for COVID-19 and will continue to be tested regularly. It added that he is considered at “relatively low risk” based on the degree of his exposure, and that he would be “taking appropriate precautions” to mitigate the risk to personal contacts while still carrying out his duties. While he will stay at home and telework, Fauci will go to the White House if called and take every precaution, the institute said.

Redfield will be “teleworking for the next two weeks” after it was determined he had a “low-risk exposure” to a person at the White House, the CDC said in a statement Saturday evening. The statement said he felt fine and has no symptoms.

Just a few hours earlier, the Food and Drug Administration confirmed that Hahn had come in contact with someone who tested positive and was in self-quarantine for the next two weeks. He also tested negative for the virus.

All three were scheduled to testify before a Senate panel during a Tuesday hearing focused on how to safely return people to work and school. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the panel’s Republican chairman, announced Sunday that Fauci will be joining all of the administration’s witnesses in testifying by videoconference “in an abundance of caution for our witnesses, senators, and the staff.”

Statements from the agencies the officials oversee took care not to identify the person they had contact with earlier last week. Vice-President Mike Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller, tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday, making her the second person who works at the White House complex known to test positive for the virus in the past week. White House officials had confirmed Thursday that a member of the military serving as one of Trump’s valets had tested positive for COVID-19 a day earlier.

White House adviser Kevin Hassett noted that the vice-president’s press secretary tested negative one day and positive the next. He appeared on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“And so this is a very, very scary virus. You know, that people are going to go back to work and they’re gonna be worried about things,” Hassett said. “And it’s going to take awhile for things to get back to normal, absolutely.”

At the same time, he said some $9 trillion has been injected into the economy through actions taken by Congress, the White House and the Federal Reserve.

“I think that right now we have bought some time with all the money that we’ve thrown at the economy and we’ve been using the time to do things like develop treatments, improve our treatments, learn more about social distancing and so on,” Hassett said.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

robbery
UPDATE: Suspect identified in early morning shooting

Rimbey RCMP had responded to a complaint of an armed robbery at the Bluffton City General Store

Many rural municipalities were concerned about a proposed reduction to their industrial revenues, but Alberta’s Municipal Affairs minister has come up with an alternative solution. (Photo contributed)
Province and rural municipalities agree on a plan to support Alberta’s energy industry

Creating new wells or pipelines would result in a three year ‘tax holiday’

The influenza vaccine will be available at no cost starting Monday in Alberta. “The more that we can avoid influenza-related tests, emergency visits and hospitalizations, the stronger our system will be to support those with COVID-19 and all other health needs," says Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Hinshaw urges Albertans to get flu shot as COVID cases jump by 332

Alberta’s central zone now has 132 active COVID-19 cases

The Bellows family on vacation last year in Mexico. L-R: Angel, Ryan, Darrel, Grace and Michael. (Photo submitted)
Rimbey community rallying behind family after cancer diagnosis

Michael Bellows, 12, a ‘strong, resilient kid’ says father

Across the province, there are 2,738 active cases of COVID-19, with 18,417 recovered cases. There have been 288 deaths from the virus in Alberta since the beginning of the pandemic. (File photo)
Alberta reports 244 additional COVID-19 cases Thursday

2,738 active cases of COVID-19 in the province

In this photo provided by Shannon Kiss, smoke from the CalWood Fire billows, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, as seen from Gunbarrel, Colo. (Shannon Kiss via AP)
‘First guys out:’ Western Canadian air tanker fleet busy despite drop in wildfires

CEO believes wildfires have become more dangerous in recent years as people live closer to where they start

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Executive Director of Agape Kate Halas (left) receives $1000 from Sgt. Eric Christensen (right) on behalf of Agape. Photo/ Shaela Dansereau.
Former Wetaskiwin Peace Officer wins provincial award; gives back to Wetaskiwin community

Eric Christensen has won the Alberta Association of Community Peace Officers Award of Excellence.

Agriculture Minister Devin Dreeshen (Alberta government photo)
Big boost for Alberta college agriculture research

The $2-million agreement to benefit Lethbridge College’s applied research team

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Canadian couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Employee Sophia Lovink shows off a bag of merchandise in Toronto on Thursday, June 11, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Canada gets C-average grade on 2nd year of cannabis legalization

Cannabis Council of Canada releases report card on federal government and legalization

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada-USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Restrictions on non-essential travel between Canada and the United States are being extended until at least Nov. 21. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
Non-essential travel restrictions at Canada-U.S. border extended to at least Nov. 21

The restrictions do not apply to those providing essential services in either country

(The Canadian Perss)
Banff wolves have lower survival rate due to hunting, trapping outside park boundary

Researchers looked at 72 radio-collared wolves in the national park from 1987 to August 2019

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Miramar Regional Park in Miramar, Fla., Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is still hopeful about the Keystone pipeline if there’s a change in government in the U.S. next month, saying Alberta has been engaging with American officials from both sides of the aisle. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Carolyn Kaster
Alberta premier says he’s still hopeful about Keystone, even if Biden elected

The Alberta government has agreed to invest about US$1.1 billion as equity in the project

Most Read