MIAMI (CBSMiami) – President Donald Trump announced at a Coronavirus Task Force briefing Thursday that he wants to reopen the economy.
Trump said his administration will issue new federal guidelines allowing “governors to take a phased, deliberate approach to reopening their individual states.”
For some political insight, CBS4’s Rudabeh Shahbazi and Eliott Rodriguez spoke with Rep. Ted Deutch, who recently accepted an invitation to be part of the White House’s bipartisan congressional panel on economic recovery.
Q: President Trump just announced new guidelines to reopen the economy, telling governors they can start the process before his May 1 target date. What do you make of that?
A: Well, I don’t think that we can simply declare when we’re going to reopen the government. I was glad to accept the invitation for the president to serve on this committee because I wanted to be sure there was a voice at the table that said we need to listen to public health officials and the scientists. That’s what’s so critical here. The one thing that was clear from our call today was the vice president laying out very explicitly that we’ve got to do this in a planful and careful way. We need sufficient testing. We need sufficient tracing. We’re not there yet. We need to work toward that. So I think using the guidelines that the president himself put out today, no one’s ready to do this right now. But we need to start planning for what’s going to happen to get the economy moving again and to help the American people.
Q: Congressman, Americans are concerned about the spread of this virus and the federal government’s response to it is now the time even for a White House panel on jumpstarting the economy.
A: I think it’s absolutely appropriate for us to start thinking about how the economy is going to get moving again. That’s what’s so important is to do this in a plan for way to make sure that this isn’t something that’s done arbitrarily. So I don’t think that now is the time for us to simply declare, ‘It’s time to start the economy again to get back to work.’ That won’t work that risks a spike in cases that risks the spread of this terrible virus even faster. But it is appropriate for us to listen to the public health experts, to listen to the scientists and to really focus on ramping up the testing that’s going to be necessary for us to, number one, know how fast this really is spreading. And then, number two, know where we can start thinking about how to combine that testing with tracing to ease the economy open. But no, this can’t be done in a haphazard way. Absolutely now.
Q: OK, so unemployment is skyrocketing. We learned today that the Small Business Administration has run out of money for the Payment Protection Program and negotiations in Washington are at an impasse. So what can you say to Americans who are trying to understand why they’re not being left in the lurch?
A: Well, I was on the phone all day today, again, with small business owners who have done everything right. They’ve kept employees working, they’ve kept paying them even though their businesses are closed. they qualify for the PPP loans. We need to increase the funding for it so that they can get what they need to help get through this storm. And I talked today to our own leadership and to the White House about the need to get this done. I’m hopeful that over the next day or so we’ll be in a position to increase the funding for that, to increase the funding for the SBA loans, for the economic injury disaster loans, so that people who are really suffering are able to get what they need. But that still leaves open the challenges we have in Florida with our unemployment system, which is still broken and not able to really accommodate the Floridians who desperately need that the benefits that they deserve.
Q: Well, the governor spoke about that this afternoon saying he’s trying to expedite it and he’s trying to not enforce that rule that they have to be looking for another job. I want to know about the letter that you wrote Gov. DeSantis expressing concerns about the numbers that the state is putting out.
A: I think you’re talking about the one that talks about the number of cases and why when we report cases we break it down into resident and non-resident. But when we report the number of people who succumb to this terrible virus, we don’t include people who aren’t residents of Florida. I don’t understand why that is. It would seem that it’s in everyone’s interest for us to be as transparent as possible, so that we know just how bad this is. The medical examiner up in Palm Beach County said recently, ‘I think people just want to know who died in our state from COVID-19. They don’t care where their home is.’ And I think that’s right. And so we just want more transparency from the governor. And I think that’s in everyone’s best interest as we fight this terrible virus.