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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

Updated 37 mins ago - Science

Huge wildfire reaches edge of Sequoia National Park

A plume of smoke and flames rise into the air as the fire burns towards Moro Rock during the KNP Complex fire in the Sequoia National Park near Three Rivers, California, on Saturday. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Firefighters in Sequoia National Park were working into the night after two wildfires merged to reach the Giant Forest Saturday.

Why it matters: This forest contains over 2,000 giant sequoias, including the General Sherman Tree — the world's largest tree by volume. Park officials wrapped the redwoods in foil last week as the Paradise and Colony Fires, now known as the KNP Complex Fire, neared. Protection efforts appeared to be working overnight.

1 hour ago - World

Hong Kong holds first "patriots only" elections

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam during a news conference last Monday. Photo: Lui Siu Wai/Xinhua via Getty Images

Hong Kong's elections to choose the city's Election Committee members opened to a select group of voters on Sunday, under a new "patriots only" system imposed by China's government.

Why it matters: All candidates running to be members of the electoral college have been "vetted" by Beijing, per Reuters. They will go on to choose the Asian financial hub's next leader, approved by China's government, and some of its legislature.

3 hours ago - World

Israeli forces capture final 2 escaped Palestinian prisoners

An Israeli security forces member on Saturday stands guard at the Gilboa prison in northern Israel, from where the six inmates escaped. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli forces captured the two remaining Palestinian prisoners who tunneled their way out of an Israeli maximum-security prison with four others in a "Shawshank Redemption"-style escape, authorities announced Sunday.

Why it matters: The escape sparked a massive manhunt and turned the prisoners into heroes in the West Bank and Gaza, with Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza threatening an escalation if they were harmed, per Axios' Barak Ravid.