President Trump is not considering a national lockdown amid a flare-up in coronavirus cases countrywide, even after a top Federal Reserve official said a prolonged shutdown could deliver a faster economic recovery.
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White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters on Tuesday that Trump is instead focused on mitigation efforts, including mask-wearing, social distancing and reopening businesses safely to “avoid the health consequences of a lockdown.”
“I would refer you to what Dr. Fauci said back in May,” McEnany said. “He said we can’t stay locked down for such a considerable period of time that you might do irreparable damage and have unintended consequences, including consequences for health.”
McEnany’s comments came after Neel Kashkari, the president of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, said during an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the best way for the U.S. to control the virus — and there ensure a robust economic recovery — is to impose a “hard” lockdown.
“I mean if we were to lock down really hard, I know I hate to even suggest it, people will be frustrated by it, but if we were to lock down hard for a month or six weeks, we could get the case count down so that our testing and our contact tracing was actually enough to control it the way that it’s happening in the Northeast right now,” Kashkari said. “They had a rocky start, but they’re doing a pretty good job right now.”
If the U.S. does not take such action, he said, the virus will continue to spread throughout the country, with flare-ups and local lockdowns repeatedly triggering fresh business failures.
“We’re going to see many, many more business bankruptcies, small businesses, big businesses, and that’s going to take a lot of time to recover from to rebuild those businesses and then to bring workers back in and re-engage them in the workforce,” he said. “That’s going to be a much slower recovery for all of us.”
Kashkari is a voting member of the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee this year.