President Donald Trump. | Alex Brandon/AP Photo
President Donald Trump is expected Thursday to discuss a phased reopening of the economy tied to the availability of coronavirus testing and largely deferring to state leaders, according to people familiar with the matter.
The guidelines, which Trump said in a tweet he’d reveal in an evening news conference, were expected to remain vague — based on future data and in line with a White House effort to assign responsibility for major decisions to the states.
A senior White House official said discussions are ongoing about benchmarks the administration will use to identify which industries and communities are eligible for reopening. Most officials agreed the primary benchmark for determining whether an area is ready to reopen is testing capacity and the state of its health care infrastructure.
The initial goal will be to bring people under age 65 and without preexisting health conditions back into the workforce as soon as possible, a Republican close to the White House said.
Trump is also expected to renew his push for more aid to businesses. The president believes the best way to recharge the economy quickly is to get money in the hands of small-business owners, so he’s still pushing for a payroll tax holiday and he plans to spend time today talking about the importance of small businesses, with an emphasis on minority-owned businesses and hourly workers, a person close to the White House said.
Some aides want the president to appoint a “jobs czar,” but the senior White House official said that’s unlikely “because President Trump views himself as the only job czar the country needs.”
The latest announcement will likely represent a step back from the conflict he launched with the states on Monday. Trump was advised by his staff that he made a mistake picking a fight with governors and that he has been told not to dictate specifics Thursday, according to two people familiar with the reaction.
Anita Kumar contributed to this report.