As President Donald Trump continues to encourage an end to stay-at-home orders in response to the coronavirus pandemic — even encouraging state governors to open schools again — the vast majority of Americans appear unwilling to see social distancing measures loosened just quite yet.
Trump made the suggestion to chief executives of the nation’s states on Monday, according to reporting from ABC News.
“Some of you might start thinking about school openings,” Trump said to governors. “Because a lot of people are wanting to have the school openings. It’s not a big subject, young children have done very well in this disaster that we’ve all gone through. So a lot of people are thinking about the school openings.”
Don’t miss a beat
Get the latest news and thought-provoking analysis from Truthout.
Trump also said that governors should “seriously consider it” and that they should “maybe get going on it.”
Although not yet focusing on schools, some states are already taking his advice to heart, ending some social distancing measures and allowing a number of businesses to reopen their doors, in spite of signs demonstrating it may be premature to do so.
In Tennessee, for example, restaurants reopened their doors in most of the counties, with some restrictions still in place (bar areas are still closed and live music is discouraged). But even as Tennessee reopened most of its dining establishments — ahead of the recommendations Trump himself had in mind — the Volunteer State is seeing a rise in coronavirus cases.
Sunday was the highest single-day increase in new COVID-19 cases in Tennessee, with 478 people reported as testing positive for the virus.
As some states choose to go the route that Tennessee and others are taking, polling indicates that Americans overall are approving of the stay-at-home measures that are currently being implemented across most of the country, according to a Washington Post/University of Maryland national poll.
Respondents were asked two questions about social distancing measures within that poll, one focused on their effects on businesses, the other on restrictions on public crowd gatherings. In both instances, the American people supported current rules that are in place, with a sizable amount saying even more restrictions were needed.
Asked about restrictions in place on crowd sizes, 64 percent of Americans said the measures were appropriate, while 22 percent said they should go even further. Just 14 percent said they were too restrictive.
The public’s views on restrictions on businesses saw similar numbers: 66 percent said they were appropriate, and 16 percent said they were not restrictive enough. Seventeen percent were not approving of the measures, deeming them too burdensome.
There appeared to be bipartisan agreement on the issue, too. Though the numbers trended slightly differently for Republicans, they still indicated that most of Trump’s own party faithful were approving of stay-at-home measures to combat COVID-19.
Only 29 percent of GOP-leaning respondents in the poll said restrictions on businesses were too severe, while 60 percent agreed they were appropriate. On the issue of crowd sizes, just 22 percent of Republicans said things were too restrictive, but again, 60 percent said the rules were fine.
In addition to his numerous gaffes and disturbing ideas on how to overcome coronavirus, the continued push by Trump to “reopen” the nation’s economy — which may be a political motivation on his part rather than one concerned with helping the American people — may be hurting his reelection chances. The Washington Post/University of Maryland poll also found strong disapproval numbers on the president’s response to the crisis so far, with 52 percent rating his performance as “not so good” or “poor.”
Separate polling has also found that Americans are not as enthusiastic as Trump is about ending social distancing rules quite yet. Seventy-two percent of Americans are more concerned that things may move too quickly, with regard to ending stay-at-home measures, as opposed to being concerned that things move too slow, according to a recent ABC News/Ipsos poll.
Another factor that could be causing harm to Trump’s image? That he regularly congratulates himself as tens of thousands of Americans have died as a result of COVID-19. As of Tuesday afternoon, the total number of reported cases of infection in the United States had topped one million, and more than 57,000 Americans have reportedly died so far from COVID-19.