President Donald Trump on Monday, in discussing his hope to restart the U.S. economy within weeks, not months, cited Nebraska and Iowa as places “lightly affected” by coronavirus.
Nebraska later announced 11 new cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, bringing the state’s total to 62, 47 of which are in Douglas and adjoining counties. Iowa announced 15 new cases Monday, bringing its total to 105. Governors of both states have put various restrictions on businesses and gatherings.
Earlier Monday afternoon, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said he couldn’t say when the state would get back to normal.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key player on the White House coronavirus task force, has said he thinks it will be “at least” several more weeks until people can start going about their lives more normally.
Here’s what Trump said, in context:
A reporter asked, “If, in a week, Dr. (Deborah) Birx (coronavirus task force coordinator) or Dr. Fauci are telling you, ‘We need to continue these measures for the health of the vulnerable populations of the country,’ are you going to say, ‘I’m sorry, the economy is too important?’ ”
Trump: “Well, you’ll see what happens. I understand the question very well. It’s a — it’s a great question. But we can do two things at one time. I will say this: Our country has learned a lot. We’ve learned about social distancing. We’ve learned about the hands. We’ve learned about staying away, at least during the time that this is even a little bit around — this disease or — or whatever you want to call it — many different names. You can call it many different names — but the virus, while it’s around.
“And we can start thinking about — as an example, parts of our country are very lightly affected. Very small numbers. And, you know, you look at a state — great governor — Pete Ricketts, Nebraska. You look at the kind of numbers they have out there. They have one of the great — one of the great hospitals there, too, relative to what we’re talking about. But you look at Nebraska, you look at Idaho, you look at Iowa, you look at many — I could name many countries that are handling it very, very well and that are not affected to the same extent, or, frankly, not even nearly to the extent of New York, which is really —
“I’m dealing with Governor Cuomo, and we’re dealing very well together. We’ll be sending that (hospital) ship up, by the way. As you know, we have a ship going to Los Angeles. We’ll also be — the ship is coming out of a very large repair. It’s all ready to go and very soon will be. And over the next three or four weeks, that’ll be coming up to New York. It will go to New York Harbor and it’ll be fully supplied. So they’re working on that right now."
Reporter: “And just — and maybe Dr. Birx can speak to this — do you share the president’s optimism that in a week we might have a situation where we can say, you know, there’s a few hot spots, but much of the country will be (inaudible).”
Trump: “Well, I didn’t say a week, but I said soon. It’s going to be soon. It’s not going to be three or four months, as some people were saying and a lot of people thought originally.”