President Donald Trump fixed his course on reopening the nation for business, acknowledging that the move would cause more illness and death from the pandemic but insisting it’s a cost he’s willing to pay to get the economy back on track.

Trump shifted his rhetoric on Tuesday, removing cautionary caveats about when and whether states should reopen and instead presenting the imminent easing of stay-at-home rules as a fait accompli.

As governors across the South and Midwest have begun returning people to work, Trump said he’s pivoting to “phase two” of the nation’s response to the pandemic, a step that will include disbanding the White House coronavirus task force, a group of public health experts that has been advising the administration on how to confront the outbreak.

The president has for more than a month clamored for a return to normal, stuck between the devastating human cost of the pandemic and the calamity that has befallen the economy as social-distancing measures pushed more than 30 million people into unemployment in a matter of weeks.

Tuesday marked the first time he clearly and unreservedly laid out his own cost-benefit analysis of the situation.

“Will some people be affected? Yes. Will some people be affected badly? Yes,” Trump said. “But we have to get our country open and we have to get it open soon.”

On his visit to a Phoenix Honeywell International Inc. factory producing medical masks, Trump encouraged Americans to think of themselves as “warriors” as they consider leaving their homes, a tacit acknowledgment of deep public reservations about reopening the country too soon.

The U.S. continues to endure the largest coronavirus outbreak in the world, with about 1.2 million people infected and more than 70,000 killed so far.

States Start to Reopen
Speaking separately in an ABC News interview broadcast on Tuesday evening, Trump said closing down the nation was “the biggest decision I’ve ever had to make.”

And while as recently as April 22, he criticized Georgia Governor Brian Kemp for reopening salons, barbershops, tattoo parlors and gyms, on Tuesday he was resolute about getting people back to work.

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