The White House Correspondents' Association reduced for the second time the number of briefing-room seats that can be occupied on Monday. Photo: Alex Brandon/AP

President Trump egged on by a growing number of advisers and business leaders, believes the economy will crater absent a strong signal, and wants to stagger the reopening of work nationwide, people who’ve spoken to him tell Axios.

Behind the scenes: Trump has been hearing from lots of people in the business community and conservative media telling him the economy can't survive this shutdown much longer. The sources say that "horrific," "truly scary" economic consequences were described to Trump.

"We have to get this going," Trump said during a dinnertime briefing that lasted nearly two hours.

  • "[T]he faster we get it going, the more likely it is that those stores, little businesses, big businesses, medium-sized businesses open up."
  • "And we'll get [the economy] going very fast. ... As soon as we say 'let's go' — and it's gonna be pretty soon. ... It's gonna be sooner than people would think."

What's next: Nothing has been decided yet. But Trump has been persuaded, in line with his instincts, that the economy can’t sustain this shutdown for much longer.

  • The administration is discussing different tiers to ease Americans back into normal life after the 15-day period that ends next Monday.
  • People with underlying health issues or in the highest risk age range will likely be asked to stick with isolation.
  • But others could be encouraged to get back into a more normal routine.

Between the lines: Remember that Trump has no public health professionals in his circle of informal advisers. Those are not his go-to calls when he's in the residence late at night. They’re all business or media folks.

  • The president wants an end date to give businesses, markets and consumers — hence his fixation on the 15-day deadline.

Reality check, via Axios health care reporter Caitlin Owens: For now, the only way to avoid large numbers of deaths is to keep people away from each other to stop the virus' spread.

  • And as long as the coronavirus is spreading, it’s likely to hurt the economy.

Go deeper

Trump says he supports another round of direct payments to Americans

President Trump told Fox Business on Wednesday that he supports another round of direct stimulus payments as part of a potential phase four coronavirus relief package.

Why it matters: 19.5 million Americans remain on unemployment after initially applying, according to data from the Labor Department released last week.

Jul 1, 2020 - Health

Trump says he still thinks coronavirus will "just disappear" at some point

President Trump told Fox Business in an interview Wednesday that he still believes the coronavirus will "at some point just sort of disappear," as he first claimed in February before the pandemic was declared.

Why it matters: The coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., which has already seen more than 2.6 million Americans test positive, is continuing to accelerate across the Sun Belt and has shown no signs of slowing down. Anthony Fauci testified Tuesday that he would "not be surprised" if the U.S. begins reporting as many as 100,000 new coronavirus cases per day.

Updated 1 min ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. reported a record 60,000 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours as infections continue increasing in hotspots like Florida, Texas and Arizona.

The big picture: As infections soar, deaths will inevitably follow. Public health departments are seeing record hospitalizations, and ICU beds are filling up as cases surge, a sign that more vulnerable populations could be contracting the virus.