Trump: 'We can't let the cure be worse than the problem itself'

President TrumpDonald John Trump Trump responds to calls to tear down monuments with creation of 'National Garden' of statues Trump: Children are taught in school to 'hate their own country' Trump accuses those tearing down statues of wanting to 'overthrow the American Revolution' MORE is suggesting he might lift restrictions intended to prevent the spread of coronavirus if the economic pain from the measures becomes too great, tweeting that "we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself.

“WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” Trump said in a late night tweet. “AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!”

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The message from Trump comes as the number of coronavirus cases in the United States grows and grows and as New York becomes an epicenter. New York now accounts for an estimated 5 percent of the world's cases.

Yet the economic calamity emanating from social distancing policies that have closed much of the U.S. economy are also having devastating effects, with some projections of 20 percent or 30 percent unemployment in the second quarter.

Some local leaders have said the restrictions that have closed bars, restaurants, theaters, music clubs and gyms could last for weeks or even months.

But Trump on Monday morning retweeted several accounts that urged the loosening of those restrictions in the name of getting Americans back to work, a sign he may be growing impatient with the dismal economic numbers that could threaten his reelection hopes in the fall.

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"Correct. 15 days, then we keep the high risk groups protected as necessary and the rest of us go back to work," one user retweeted by Trump said.

Trump also retweeted Dawn Michael, a sex therapist whose tweets he has regularly amplified, who posited that "fear of the virus cannot collapse our economy."

"We The People are smart enough to keep away from others if we know that we are sick or they are sick!" she tweeted. "After 15 days are over the world can begin to heal!"

The president last week brought former Council of Economic Advisers chief Kevin Hassett back on in an advisory role. Hassett has said the U.S. may have to consider sending people back to work at some point to avoid a Great Depression–like event.

Vice President Pence said at a briefing on Sunday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would be issuing new guidelines allowing workers who may have self-quarantined or been exposed to the virus to return to their jobs more quickly by wearing masks.

The guidance, paired with Trump's new tone, previews a looming clash between the president, who has tied his reelection bid closely to the strength of the economy, and public health experts who have insisted that social distancing measures and changes to daily life may drag on for weeks or months to avoid a soaring number of infections and deaths.

Several states have adopted temporary policies in line with the federal government's recommendations against large gatherings, calling for dine-in restaurants to be shut, school closures and mass event cancellations. 

Early Monday, “Today” host Savannah Guthrie asked Surgeon General Jerome Adams about the president's tweet, noting that Adams said last week that the U.S. would likely have to follow the restrictions for more than 15 days.

“It sounded like the president was at least considering ending these measures after the 15-day period,” she said, reading the tweet. “That sounds like what we're doing to stop it is worse than the virus itself. Where do you come down on that?" 

“As the nation's doctor I'm here to help America understand how we need to respond to this, and where I come down is that every single day counts. Every single second counts, and right now there are not enough people out there taking this seriously,” Adams responded, adding there’s crowds at California beaches and in Washington, D.C., to look at the cherry blossoms.   

“We need to take this seriously,” he said. 

Health experts have warned that the mitigation practices may not show an immediate response, and early and vast social distancing could help reduce the peak number of cases.