Another week of self-isolating — or, for many Americans, mandatory lockdowns — will raise more questions for President Trump on how long the coronavirus mitigation measures will last and whether they are worth the economic pain.
Aides say Trump is itching for the guidelines to be eased at the end of the 15 day period, but realistically there are few health experts who think that’s enough time to know whether the measures he announced last week will suffice.
The dynamic has led to a robust internal debate over how best to balance the actual health of the country — with potentially hundreds of thousands of lives at stake — with its economic health.
Some of Trump’s allies have continued to publicly suggest the measures announced by the White House last week were too stringent and have caused unnecessary economic pain. Many of his conservative allies circulated a Wall Street Journal editorial from last week, which questioned whether the shutdown was worth the trade off of a shuttered economy.
That has helped fuel growing opposition among some of Trump’s advisers to an extended lockdown.
Officials aren’t sure where Trump will ultimately land after 15 days — and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, will continue to act as a critical voice behind the scenes.
Trump was initially resistant to Fauci’s recommendations that he take steps to encourage social distancing during the first go-around, people familiar with the deliberations said. The President remains unconvinced it was the fight decision. And there are people around him who aren’t exactly reinforcing Fauci’s message, including some of his economic advisers.
An open question is whether Trump is willing to blow off Fauci once the economic picture becomes clearer. Meanwhile, Fauci has been vocal in his disagreements with Trump — Including interviews openly discussing his role in correcting the president’s false or misleading statements.