Updated at 4 p.m. ET
President Trump hopes the United States can begin to get back to normal by the middle of next month, he said on a Fox News TV special on Tuesday.
"I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter," Trump told host Bill Hemmer in a show aired from the White House.
That's April 12, within the timeline of "weeks" that Trump said he hopes is appropriate for curtailing the social distancing, isolation and other measures that officials have outlined to slow the spread of the coronavirus — but have also paralyzed the economy.
The rate of infections inside the U.S. has not stopped climbing — by Tuesday afternoon, there were more than 50,000 confirmed cases nationwide, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University — and Trump's April 12 target date is far sooner than other milestones set by officials across the country.
The White House's coronavirus task force is holding a briefing Tuesday afternoon. You can watch it live here:
The District of Columbia has closed its schools through April 24, for example; schools in Virginia won't reconvene at all for the rest of this academic year.
Trump and Vice President Pence have talked up what they call the need for the U.S. to reset in stride, as military commanders might say — to continue some mitigation measures to constrain the pandemic but also permit some businesses to reopen.
"You can destroy a country this way by closing it down," Trump said in the Fox special on Tuesday.
Many public health experts have expressed alarm about Trump's suggestion that some parts of the country could soon ease some measures being taken to slow the spread of the virus.
The president and vice president framed one focus for the upcoming months on the most vulnerable populations, particularly older people with preexisting medical conditions.
Under this construction, life might shift away from keeping everyone apart to permitting more people to leave their homes and return to work. For the time being, Trump said Americans might still be discouraged from shaking hands and other such activity. "We can socially distance ourselves and go to work," he said.