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Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Photo: AL DRAGO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told CNBC Thursday that shutting down the economy again to stop the spread of the coronavirus is not an option.

Why it matters: The comment came as stocks opened much lower Thursday amid fears that infections are spiking again in states that have reopened. Mnuchin said the country "learned a lot” from the first shutdown, which he said caused significant damage even if it helped slow the spread of the virus.

  • Mnuchin said he is ready to ask Congress for additional money if needed, after telling the Senate at a hearing Wednesday that the U.S. will "definitely" need another bipartisan stimulus package to prop up certain vulnerable industries.

What he's saying: “We can’t shut down the economy again. I think we’ve learned that if you shut down the economy, you’re going to create more damage,” Mnuchin told Jim Cramer on “Squawk on the Street.” 

  • “And not just economic damage, but there are other areas and we’ve talked about this: medical problems and everything else that get put on hold. I think it was very prudent what the president did, but I think we’ve learned a lot.”
  • “We have the Fed program, we have Main Street [lending program], which is going to be now up and running, and we’re prepared to go back to Congress for more money to support the American worker. So we’re going to get everybody back to work. That’s my No. 1 job working with the president and we’re going to do that.”

Go deeper

Sep 18, 2020 - Health

Rep. Khanna: COVID-19 could change the perception of public health care

Rep. Khanna and Axios' Margaret Talev

The universal experience of COVID-19 could change how opponents view Medicare for All, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) said at an Axios virtual event on Friday.

What they're saying: "The pandemic has reminded us of our shared humanity with other American citizens. It's no longer possible to think, 'Oh, we're not part of those who get sick.' Now almost everyone knows, unfortunately, someone who has been hospitalized, someone who had a serious bout with COVID," Khanna said.

Updated 19 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: No evidence that healthy children, teens need boosters, WHO says — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older.
  5. Variant tracker
Sep 18, 2020 - Health

CDC again recommends coronavirus testing for asymptomatic people

CDC director Robert Redfield testifies at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Sept. 16. Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its previously revised guidance for coronavirus testing on Friday to say that testing asymptomatic people who were exposed to COVID-19 is recommended for treatment and contact tracing.

Why it matters: The CDC's modification in August to recommend against testing for asymptomatic people was not written by scientists and posted despite their "serious objections," New York Times first reported. CNN confirmed that the agency's update was published outside the agency's "normal review process."