March 25, 2020 12:45 PM, EDT

Trump Points to Potential for Resuming Daily Operations by Easter

U.S. President Donald TrumpDonald Trump by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News

[Stay on top of transportation news: Get TTNews in your inbox.]

With Congress seeking to help stabilize the economy by advancing a $2 trillion rescue measure this week, President Donald Trump suggested a significant portion of the country’s operations, such as freight and passenger transportation networks, could resume as early as Easter, which falls on April 12 this year.

“I would love to have that — it’s such an important day for other reasons, but I’ll make it an important day for this, too. I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” Trump said during a virtual town hall hosted by Fox News on March 24.

MARCH 25 UPDATE: Senate OKs $2.2 trillion rescue package

This month, Trump declared a national emergency, and his administration directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other rapid response units to assist states. Transportation agencies also relaxed certain regulations to expedite the delivery of goods and equipment.

States and cities have locked down certain businesses and government functions to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Financial markets have slumped rapidly, as well, prompting various industries to press the federal government for assistance. However, stocks rebounded by the end of the day March 24 on news that the stimulus bill was close to passing. The Dow burst 11.4% higher — an increase of 2,112.98 points, the biggest in its history — while the more closely followed S&P 500 index leapt 9.4%.

Trump added, “It’s like this cure is worse than the problem. Again, people — many people — in my opinion, more people are going to die if we allow this to continue. We have to go back to work. Our people want to go back to work.”

The president’s aspirational timeline for restoring normalcy, however, contradicts public health warnings from several governors and mayors who point to growing numbers of coronavirus cases in their regions. In New York, where more than 25,000 individuals have tested positive for the virus as of March 24, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) insisted additional federal assistance would alleviate pressing needs for medical supplies.

“We need the federal help, and we need the federal help now,” Cuomo said March 24. “Deploy the ventilators around the country as they are needed. Different regions have different curbs of the infection. New York is the canary in the coal mine. New York is going first. We have the highest and the fastest rate of infection. What happens to New York is going to wind up happening to California, and Washington state, and Illinois, it’s just a matter of time.”

On Capitol Hill, congressional leaders said they heeded nationwide calls for assistance and announced they had finalized a $2 trillion economic package meant to stimulate hard-hit industries and workers. The aviation, tourism and manufacturing sectors are a focus of the measure. The package also would boost access to medical services and financial security for working-class families, as well as provide assistance to the corporate class. The legislation is expected to be voted on in the Senate as early as March 25.

“This pandemic is not the fault of the American workers who make this country run; it is not the fault of small-business owners; it is not the fault of major national employers,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said March 24. “Everyone needs help. We are all in this together. We need an all-of-the-above approach.”

Want more news? Listen to today's daily briefing: