CNNs Kaitlan Collins in the socially distanced White House briefing room last evening. Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
Believing the worst is yet to come, some top advisers to President Trump are struggling to steer him away from Easter as an arbitrary deadline for much of the nation to reopen, Jonathan Swan reports.

  • The operating assumption among administration officials involved in the coronavirus planning is that the April 12 mark 16 days away will not, in fact, turn out to be the starting gun for businesses across America to reopen.
  • But Trump is far from chastened. “I dont think he feels in any way that his messaging was off,” a top official said. “He feels more convinced than ever that America needs to get back to work.”

One person close to Trump expressed concern about market reaction the day after Easter, if the president allows that to be set up too rigidly as Open Day.

  • If the reality is worse than Trump hopes and large numbers of Americans have to stay isolated some close to Trump think a false Easter expectation could send markets downward.

Between the lines: The reality is that the administration is unlikely to go from red light to green light.

  • More likely its a step-by-step process a “tiered” approach, different guidelines based on geography and other factors, as Trump has been foreshadowing.
  • Trump sought yesterday to provide himself more flexibility, given internal expectations that awful data will only mount.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said on CNN last night that Easter was Trump’s “aspirational projection” to “give people some hope.” But Fauci said Trump is “listening to us when we say we really got to reevaluate it, in real time.”

But weaning Trump from setting a date for millions of Americans to get back to work is a delicate, ongoing process.

  • Despite the blowback for imposing an unrealistic and artificial deadline on a virus that knows no deadline, Trump remains impatient.
  • On Monday, he faces his first self-imposed deadline the end of the White House’s “15 days to slow the spread.”

The bottom line: With states including Louisiana and Florida showing increasingly alarming signals, a senior White House official told Swan theres a sense that a rolling disaster awaits.