While President Donald Trump has made clear his plans to “re-open” the economy by Easter Sunday — less than three weeks away — in spite of health experts’ concerns over what that might mean for medical professionals in the midst of a pandemic, his immediate predecessor disagreed sharply with the idea.
Former President Barack Obama, tweeting on Wednesday about the difficulties that healthcare professionals were already facing, explained that one of the best ways to help them at this time was to keep doing what we were doing: stay at home.
“These are the burdens our medical heroes already face in NYC,” Obama’s tweet read, in which he shared an article about New York healthcare workers. “It’s only going to get harder across the country.”
The difficulties in New York were “another reason to maintain social distancing policies at least until we have comprehensive testing in place. Not just for our sake — for theirs,” Obama added.
These are the burdens our medical heroes already face in NYC. It's only going to get harder across the country. Another reason to maintain social distancing policies at least until we have comprehensive testing in place. Not just for our sake—for theirs. https://t.co/bwNXhOPMYs
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) March 25, 2020
It wasn’t the only tweet Obama had shared in recent days that expressed the need for social distancing methods. In fact, the former president’s social media has been more active as of late, giving tips and support to healthcare workers as the coronavirus crisis spreads across the country.
On Tuesday, Obama shared another tweet in which he said healthcare workers at “the front lines” of the crisis were “a good reminder for us to help them out by staying home.” And on Monday, he shared a link to a New York Times article on the “best thinking among public health experts” on how to combat coronavirus, included call for “extreme social distancing.”
Obama’s tone is starkly different than Trump’s — and more congruent to the thinking of healthcare experts than is the current president’s. Trump has frequently expressed a strong desire to re-open the economy, arguing that doing so was necessary to stave off bigger problems that could come about due to an economic recession.
Trump on Tuesday, for instance, said that such a recession could result in a higher rate of suicide — a notion for which he provided no evidence to back up, and which experts’ opinions are at odds with.
The threat of re-opening markets seems much more dire, in fact. Around 50,000 individuals die each year from suicide, and while their deaths shouldn’t be minimized, the threat of coronavirus far exceeds that number, with some worst-case projections showing millions could die if we don’t act now.
Featured image credit: Pete Souza/Obama White House Archives