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Trump U-turn on lifting lockdown prompted by election warning: Report

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  • President Donald Trump reversed course and canceled plans to reopen the US economy by Easter after seeing polls showing widespread opposition to the move, The New York Times reported.
  • The Washington Post also reported that advisers warned Trump that an increase in coronavirus deaths from prematurely lifting his lockdown could dent his reelection chances.
  • As recently as last week, Trump was floating the possibility of reopening the US economy by Easter — which falls in early April — despite warnings from public health officials. 
  • According to multiple reports, Trump fears that the tanking stock market and stalled economy will hurt his reelection chances.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump was only persuaded to cancel his plans to reopen the US economy by Easter after seeing polls showing widespread support for continuing coronavirus lockdown measures, The New York Times reported Monday.

In a White House coronavirus task force briefing on Sunday, the president announced that a federal lockdown advisory would remain in place throughout April.

The announcement was an abrupt U-turn by the president, who just the week before was touting the possibility of having normal American life restart at Easter — which falls in early April — despite warnings from public health officials.

The Times reported that Trump’s change of mind was prompted not just by seeing projections of the possible number of infections that would be caused by lifting restrictions too early, but also by polls showing widespread public support for continuing lockdown measures and opposition to reopening the economy too early. 

Trump’s campaign officials also told the president if restrictions were lifted too early and death rates rose, it could be more damaging to the president’s chances of reelection in November than the economic damage caused by continuing them, The Washington Post reported Monday,  citing two officials with knowledge of discussions.

trump coronavirus

Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, and Trump in the White House Rose Garden on March 13, 2020.


Evan Vucci/AP



Since the first cases of the coronavirus were reported in the US in January, Trump has veered between downplaying the likely impact of the pandemic in the US, and more recently striking the tone of a war president, vowing to defeat an “invisible” enemy.

The impact of the crisis on his reelection chances has been on the president’s mind from the outset, according to multiple reports.

According to Politico healthcare reporter Dan Diamond, he did not push for more coronavirus testing in the early stages of the outbreak because he was concerned that high infection numbers might dent his reelection chances.

The president was also concerned in February that warnings from public health officials on the impact of the disease would spook financial markets, which the president has long regarded as a barometer for the strength of his presidency.

The Washington Post reported last week that Trump wanted to restart the US economy as soon as possible because he fears the tanking stock market will hurt his reelection chances.

The White House has claimed that the president was quick to introduce travel restrictions of the kind since adopted by other countries, and has taken sweeping action to slow the spread of the disease in the US. 

“The President took decisive action early on to close our borders to the source of the virus and it is because of his leadership and relationships that he has brought together government and private industry for unprecedented collaboration to curb the spread of the virus, expand testing capacities, and expedite vaccine development,” a White House spokesman said in a statement last week. 

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