Mnuchin: US will bounce back after we 'kill this virus' and 'reopen this economy'

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to tackle omicron risks with new travel rules Mnuchin and McConnell discuss debt limit during brief meeting Major Russian hacking group linked to ransomware attack on Sinclair: report MORE said Sunday that the U.S. economy would bounce back later this year to levels seen before the coronavirus outbreak began.

"Fox News Sunday" host Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump's pre-debate COVID-19 test sparks criticism Bret Baier confirms his 'concerns' about Tucker Carlson's Jan. 6 documentary Rittenhouse says Biden defamed his character MORE asked Mnuchin about estimates  that the U.S. could see unemployment as high as 20 percent and GDP down by as much as 24 percent in the second quarter of 2020.

"It's hard to predict these numbers because we've never had anything like this where we shut down the U.S. economy for medical reasons," Mnuchin responded. "The economy was in very, very good health when we shut it down, and let me just say, we're very sympathetic to the people who don't have jobs, and that's why the president was very clear he wanted me to work with Congress on a bipartisan basis quickly to support those people."

Large swaths of the U.S. economy have essentially closed down over the past month as officials ordered most areas where people gather to shutter and experts urged people to stay home as much as possible. 

More than 3 million people applied for unemployment benefits between March 15 and 22 as the measures led to a devastating wave of layoffs and business closures.

Mnuchin said on Sunday that he hoped small businesses used the funding provided in the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package signed into law last week to rehire workers, and said Americans would also be helped by the enhanced unemployment insurance and direct deposits of cash into their bank accounts, both also included in the bill.

"I don't know what the numbers are going be this quarter," he said. "What I do think is, we are gonna kill this virus. We're gonna reopen this economy. And in the third quarter of this year, you're gonna see this economy bounce back with very large GDP numbers and very low unemployment back to where we were beforehand."