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Kudlow says US will have to make 'difficult tradeoffs' on coronavirus: 'Cure can't be worse than disease'

 

White House economic adviser Larry KudlowLarry KudlowMORE on Monday warned against an extended shutdown of the U.S. economy in response to the coronavirus outbreak, arguing that the economic cost would be just "too great." 

Kudlow made the remarks just a day after President TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump, Jared Kusher's lawyer threatens to sue Lincoln Project over Times Square billboards Facebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Sanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' MORE suggested that he might lift social distancing restrictions designed to slow the spread of the disease if the economic burden became too high. 

"WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF," Trump tweeted, adding that his administration would soon reevaluate its position on mass closures of businesses. 

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Asked on Fox News about Trump's comments, Kudlow echoed the president, saying the "cure can’t be worse than the disease."

"We can’t shut in the economy. The economic cost to individuals is just too great," he said. "So, let’s see how this thing plays out. More testing is essential, and we’re loading up with tests now; that’s going to be a big help."

He added that the U.S. is "going to have to make some difficult trade-offs" as it assesses the economic impact of the response to the outbreak.

"I don’t want to get ahead of the story," he said. "I spoke to the president about this very subject late last evening. So we’ll be looking at a number of different things. Let’s give it another week at some point."

The novel coronavirus, which originated in China in December, has infected more than 35,200 people in the United States, according to a Johns Hopkins University database, causing several states to impose restrictions that have forced businesses to close. 

The restrictions have led restaurants, theaters, music clubs and gyms to shut down en masse, prompting fears about the unemployment rate surging as a result. 

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Health experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, an infectious diseases expert and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, have warned that social distancing measures may be needed for weeks. 

Trump and Kudlow's new stated position came as the Senate continues work towards a massive stimulus package to address the hit to the economy from the coronavirus outbreak. 

Kudlow last month downplayed the effects of the coronavirus, saying that the U.S. had contained the disease and that the economic damage would be limited. Speaking on CNBC on Feb. 25, Kudlow said that the virus was a "human tragedy," but argued that it would not be an "economic tragedy.”