- The Washington Times - Friday, March 27, 2020

Vice President Mike Pence on Friday said President Trump’s Easter target date for reopening parts of the U.S. amid the coronavirus outbreak was an “aspirational goal” and that they want to get people back to work as soon as they “responsibly” can.

“The president expressed, really, an aspirational goal,” Mr. Pence said on CNBC. “The president said he would love to see it around Easter.”

He said whenever the day does come to move forward, they would try to “responsibly” start to reopen parts of the country.

“But let me be very clear: there’s going to be areas of the country where we continue to lean in to mitigation efforts,” he said.

He described the greater New York City area, New Jersey, New Orleans, Detroit, Seattle, and California as problem areas.

“But there are areas of the country, as Dr. Deborah Birx said yesterday … where there’s frankly very little outbreak of coronavirus,” he said.

He cited Mr. Trump’s letter to governors on Thursday saying the administration would take a look at county-level data to identify various levels of risk in different regions of the country.

“In the days ahead, we’re going to be giving guidance specifically to different regions of the country about how, as the president says, we might be able to open up the country and get people back to work just as soon as we responsibly can,” he said.

Mr. Trump on March 16 announced a 15-day period during which people have been advised to avoid crowds and stay at home if possible. That period is nearing an end.

The coronavirus outbreak has disrupted lives for millions of Americans as governors and local leaders have imposed their own stay-at-home orders and business closings.

There are now more than 86,000 coronavirus cases in the U.S. — the most of any country in the world - and more than 1,300 coronavirus-related deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker.

The Labor Department on Thursday reported that there were more than 3.2 million initial jobless claims for the week ending March 21, shattering records.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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