President Trump isn’t sure if he’ll meet the deadline but he’s hoping America can open for business as usual and get back to having “pack churches” again by Easter Sunday.
In an interview with Fox News’ Bill Hemmer on Tuesday, the president said while he has enjoyed attending church online amid the coronavirus pandemic, his administration is working toward a very optimistic deadline so people can start fellowshipping physically again.
"Look: Easter's a very special day for me. And I see it sort of in that timeline that I'm thinking about. And I say, 'Wouldn't it be great to have all the churches full?'" he said, noting how church services have been restricted by social distancing orders.
"You know, the churches aren't allowed, essentially, to have much of a congregation there. I watched on Sunday online and it was terrific, by the way. But online is never gonna be like being there. So I think Easter Sunday and you'll have packed churches all over our country. I think it would be a beautiful time, and it's just about the timeline that I think is right,” he said.
“It gives us more chance to work on what we’re doing. I’m not sure that’s gonna be the day, but I would love to aim at right at Easter Sunday. So we’re open for church and Sunday services generally on Easter Sunday,” he added.
During an earlier press briefing with reporters, Trump said while the Easter is his idea, he will be listening to recommendations from Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, two top medical experts on the White House coronavirus taskforce.
He said that the deadline was developed based on the amount of time his administration started working on stemming the spread of the virus that has infected more than 62,000 people nationwide and over 890 people have died as of Wednesday evening, according to the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering.
"It was based on a certain level of weeks from the time we started and it happened to arrive, we were thinking of terms of sooner. I'd love to see it come sooner," Trump said.
Fauci explained that he told the president in a meeting that he would need to be "flexible" on his deadline for getting back to business.
"We just had a conversation with the president in the Oval Office. You can look at a date but you gotta be very flexible," Fauci said.
He added that it might be possible for some parts of the country to reopen by Easter, but for places like New York City, where the pandemic is still worsening, it will likely be a challenge.
"Obviously, no one is going to want to tone down things when you see things going on like in NYC," Fauci said.
Asked if she thinks the Easter deadline is realistic, Birx, who serves as the White House coronavirus coordinator, said, "A lot of what we've done is tackle this epidemic the way people said we should have tackled the flu in 1918."
Trump, she said, has asked the task force to use the next two weeks "to get all the data from around the country."