US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin. Picture: BLOOMBERG/AL DRAGO
US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin. Picture: BLOOMBERG/AL DRAGO

Washington — US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday that there will be no more shutdowns to stop the coronavirus pandemic, even as the outbreak has flared up in some states.

“We can’t shut down the economy. I think we’ve learnt that if you shut down the economy, you’re going to create more damage,” Mnuchin said in an interview on CNBC.

His comments were echoed by President Donald Trump, who tweeted, “We will have a very good Third Quarter, a great Fourth Quarter, and one of our best ever years in 2021. We will also soon have a Vaccine & Therapeutics/Cure. That’s my opinion. WATCH!”

The president’s tweet came after the US Federal Reserve, on Wednesday, predicted an economic contraction of 6.5 % this year, while warning the outlook remained uncertain.

“The Federal Reserve is wrong so often,” Trump said. “I see the numbers also, and do MUCH better than they do.”

Orders to close businesses to stop the virus’s spread beginning in mid-March have badly harmed the world’s largest economy, leading to tens of millions of layoffs and an unemployment rate of 13.3% in May, a figure reminiscent of the Great Depression 90 years ago.

Yet the virus remains deadly across the US, with more than 115,000 deaths reported as of Thursday and more than 2-million cases reported, of which more than 800,000 have recovered, while some states, such as Texas and North Carolina, are seeing more hospitalisation from Covid-19 than they did a month ago.

Wall Street stocks reversed days of gains on Thursday, with major indices plunging into the red after the labour department reported another 1.5-million people filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week.