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Trump says US isn’t ‘built to be shut down’ over coronavirus

President Trump listened during a briefing about the coronavirus in the James Brady Briefing Room on Monday in Washington.Alex Brandon/Associated Press

President Trump said the US economy can’t remain slowed for too long to fight coronavirus, declaring the country “was not built to be shut down.”

“America will again, and soon, be open for business. Very soon,” Trump said. “A lot sooner than three or four months.”

The president of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, James Bullard, said Monday that the government should consider shutting down much of the economy for three months to combat the outbreak.

Trump didn’t mention Bullard, but said: “We’re not going to let the cure be worse than the problem.”

Trump began discussing how to get Americans back to work last week, according to people familiar with the matter -- just days after endorsing “social distancing” measures that have slowed the economy as people stay home from work and avoid eating out and socializing.


“I’m not looking at months, I can tell you right now. We’re going to be opening up our country,” Trump said. “Can’t keep it closed for the next, you know, for years. This is going away.”

He said that if the economy is forced into a deep enough recession by social distancing measures, there could be deaths from suicides and other causes in excess of those caused by the coronavirus.

Parts of the nation might be able to resume economic activity even as others fight outbreaks, he said.

“We can start thinking about, as an example, parts of our country are very lightly affected,” he said.

“We can do two things at one time,” he said. “Our country has learned a lot. We’ve learned about social distancing, we’ve learned about the hands.”