WASHINGTON, DC (NEXSTAR) — The pressure to reopen the country is building as more and more Americans protest stay-at-home orders and other social distancing measures amid the coronavirus crisis.
On Thursday, the Trump administration announced a bipartisan group of lawmakers, 65 senators and 32 House members, that will serve as an advisory panel to address how the U.S. should reopen the economy during a global pandemic.
Sen. John Kennedy, R-LA, is one of them.
“It’s like choosing between cancer and a heart attack,” said Kennedy.
The Louisiana senator and former state treasurer said as the death toll from the coronavirus crisis rises so do the country’s unemployment numbers. According to the latest data, nearly 30,000 Americans have died from the virus, while 22 million have lost their jobs.
“Lives are important. Livelihoods are important, too,” Kennedy said. “These unemployment numbers just take my breath away.”
Kennedy warns if the country doesn’t reopen soon, the economy will collapse.
“If the U.S. economy collapses, the entire world economy will have collapsed, and we’re going to end up burning down the village to save it,” he said.
However, Kennedy acknowledged when the economy opens back up, the number of coronavirus cases will increase.
“We’ve gotta be ready for that,” he said.
Health officials are not sure the U.S. is ready to reopen now because of the country’s lack of widespread testing.
Kennedy and his colleagues in the House leadership stressed the need for increased coronavirus testing.
“Even now, we do not have adequate tests, masks, PPE and necessary equipment, which creates unnecessary death and suffering,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA.
“Testing, tracing of the individual where they are and taking care of those hot spots very quickly. That’s the key of what we have to look for as we move forward,” said Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-CA.
Both Senators from South Carolina are on the task force to reopen the economy.