WASHINGTON, DC -- Even as he pushed for governors to reopen their states, President Donald Trump on Wednesday criticized the Republican governor of Georgia for his decision to allow several different businesses to reopen Friday amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“I told the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, that I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities which are in violation of the phase one guidelines for the incredible people of Georgia they're incredible people,” he said at Wednesday's White House briefing.
Kemp has said he would allow nail salons, massage parlors, bowling alleys and gyms to open on Friday. The president, who called Kemp before his news conference, said, “It's just too soon. I think it's too soon. Safety has to predominate.”
“I told the governor very simply that I disagree with his decision, but he has to do what he thinks is right,” Trump added.
The president also downplayed the danger of the virus returning in the fall at the briefing, saying, "We may not even have corona coming back." And if it did, he said, it would just be in "pockets" and "embers."
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, contradicted the president, saying he was "convinced we will have coronavirus in the fall," but he and Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus task force coordinator, both agreed that the impact would likely be less because the country would be better prepared.
Trump also said Wednesday he had signed an "executive order" -- the official White House document called it a "proclamation" -- to "pause" immigration for 60 days for those seeking green cards, claiming it would protect American jobs lost to the pandemic.
Meanwhile, U.S. House lawmakers returned to Washington amid a highly contagious pandemic to vote Thursday on the Senate-passed $484 billion interim relief package that replenishes a small business loan program and also boosts funding to hospitals and testing, as Democrats demanded.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would press Trump for the "truth" on the availability of testing, which experts say is critical to any reopening.
"If the president refuses to accept evidence, data, truth and the rest, we must insist on the truth because that is the path," she told MSNBC.