President Donald Trump announced during a virtual Fox News town hall Tuesday that he would love to have the country "opened up" and "raring to go" by Easter Sunday, April 12.
"We are going to be opening relatively soon, our time comes up Monday or Tuesday — our allotted two weeks," the president said in reference to his 15-day social distancing advisory aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus in America. "But we'll stay a little bit longer than that.
"But we want to get open very soon," Trump said. "I'd love to have it open by Easter. I will tell you that right now ... I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter."
Undoubtedly, the president's remarks will come as a surprise to many, given that health officials have warned citizens that they should be prepared to hunker down and endure shutdowns for several weeks or perhaps even months.
Trump even embraced social distancing and community mitigation measures with his 15-day advisory. But over the weekend, the president began to shift his tone, showing signs he believed that an extended national shutdown may bring destruction to the economy and loss of life far greater than the virus would.
On Sunday, he tweeted that "we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself."
"Our country wasn't built to be shut down," Trump said during a White House press briefing Monday. "America will, again, and soon, be open for business. Very soon. A lot sooner than three or four months that somebody was suggesting. Lot sooner."
During the town hall Tuesday, Trump suggested it is definitely possible to reopen the country by Easter, and that, in his opinion, "more people are going to die if we allow [the shutdown of the economy] to continue."
Politico reported that the president did not go into detail about what specific guidance, if any, the federal government would issue in the two-week period between the end of the 15-day advisory and the target date for reopening, Easter.
According to NBC News' Peter Alexander, who reportedly spoke to a White House official on the matter, that two-week period could be a time in which the economy is opened up in incremental phases.