Mar 23, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Lindsey Graham: "There is no functioning economy unless we control" the coronavirus

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tweeted Monday that he is basing his decisions for coronavirus policy on information from "healthcare professionals like Dr. Fauci and others, not political punditry."

Why it matters: In an apparent public rebuke, Graham added a link to a Washington Post article about the Trump administration's signals that it might move to loosen restrictions on businesses at the end of the White House's 15-day social distancing period as an economic salve, as reported by Axios' Jonathan Swan. "There is no functioning economy unless we control the virus," he said.

What he's saying: "Try running an economy with major hospitals overflowing, doctors and nurses forced to stop treating some because they can’t help all, and every moment of gut-wrenching medical chaos being played out in our living rooms, on TV, on social media, and shown all around the world," Graham tweeted.

The other side: Trump tweeted late Sunday: "WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF. AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!"

  • Larry Kudlow, Trump's top economic adviser, said on Fox News Monday: "We can't shut in the economy. The economic cost to individuals is just too great. ... The president is right. The cure can't be worse than the disease. And we're going to have to make some difficult trade-offs. Let's give it another week."

Go deeper ... Surgeon general on coronavirus: "This week, it's gonna get bad"

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Surgeon general: This week will be "Pearl Harbor" or "9/11 moment" in U.S.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on "Fox News Sunday" that the next week will be "the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans' lives" — calling it our "our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment" — as the projected death toll from the coronavirus pandemic surges.

Why it matters: Unlike those tragedies, Adams emphasized that the direct effects of the coronavirus will not be "localized" and that it will be happening "all over the country." But he also stressed that the public has the "power to change the trajectory of this epidemic" by following social distancing and other public health guidelines.

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Behind the scenes: This drama erupted into an epic Situation Room showdown. Trump's coronavirus task force gathered in the White House Situation Room on Saturday at about 1:30pm, according to four sources familiar with the conversation. Vice President Mike Pence sat at the head of the table.

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Joe Biden said on ABC's "This Week" Sunday that he will follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new recommendation that people wear face coverings when they leave home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: After the White House announced the guideline last week, President Trump said he will likely not wear a mask and emphasized that the guidance was "voluntary."