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March 24, 2020, 3:40 p.m. EDT

Trump says he wants U.S. ‘opened up’ by April 12 Easter holiday even as coronavirus cases rise

McConnell, Pelosi optimistic on action Tuesday

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By Robert Schroeder, MarketWatch


Getty Images
President Donald Trump speaks during a Fox News virtual town hall meeting from the Rose Garden of the White House on Tuesday.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he wants to have the U.S. economy “opened up” by Easter, laying out an aggressive timetable even as coronavirus cases increase.

“I would love to have the country opened up, and rarin’ to go, by Easter,” which is April 12, the president said in a Fox News town hall broadcast from the White House.

Trump has said he would evaluate the administration’s containment strategy early next week after a 15-day period elapses. The goal of that initiative was to encourage social distancing. During the town hall on Tuesday, Trump asserted, “people can go back to work and practice good judgment.”

Opinion: Why Trump’s hint about resuming our normal lives and reopening businesses would be the wrong thing to do now.

Trump, meanwhile, has limited authority to force states to comply with any new federal guidelines. Individual states have ordered steps like mandatory closures of non-essential businesses. Trump’s guidelines were meant to slow the spread of the virus over 15 days.

Trump earlier urged congressional negotiators to approve a sweeping deal to cushion the economic effects of the coronavirus, as U.S. stocks soared on optimism over an agreement.

“Congress must approve the deal, without all of the nonsense, today,” the president wrote on Twitter. He said the longer it takes, “the harder it will be to start up our economy.”

In the U.S., the number of cases has grown to 46,481 with 593 deaths.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday made an impassioned plea for thousands of ventilators to be sent to his state within the next 14 days to deal with an expected severe shortage given the wave of patients expected to be infected with the illness.

Read: Coronavirus update: 392,870 cases globally, 17,159 deaths, Italy shows glimmer of hope and NYC remains U.S. epicenter.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.88%   advanced more than 1,500 points on hopes for a congressional package.

The measure from Capitol Hill is estimated to cost between $1.6 trillion to $1.8 trillion. It would include direct checks for Americans of about $1,200 a person, expanded unemployment insurance and an unprecedented lending program to small- and medium-size businesses using the Federal Reserve’s emergency-lending powers.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi both expressed optimism about a deal early Tuesday. Pelosi said agreement could be reached in hours, while McConnell described action as on the “five-yard line.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called it even closer, at the “two-yard line.”

Read: McConnell, Pelosi say deal on coronavirus stimulus is close.

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Robert Schroeder is the White House reporter for MarketWatch. Follow him on Twitter @mktwrobs.

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