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Rep. Andy Harris, House Freedom Caucus send letter urging Trump to reopen economy

U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, Maryland’s sole congressional Republican, and his colleagues in the House Freedom Caucus urged President Donald Trump in a letter dated Friday to take steps to reopen the national economy sooner than medical experts are advising.

The dozen representatives who signed the letter said they “continue to pray for those who suffer and those who serve” and thanked Trump for the federal government’s efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus. But they emphasized the importance of reopening the economy, instead of following medical experts’ advice of continued social distancing to slow the spread of the global pandemic.

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“In areas like the Eastern Shore, where the COVID threat is much lower, we should move expeditiously to re-open the economy,” Harris said in a Facebook post, attaching a photo of the letter.

In addition to Harris, it was signed by Reps. Andy Biggs, Scott Perry, Jody Hice, Dan Bishop, Ron Wright, Jeff Duncan, Scott DesJarlais, Ken Buck, Paul Gosar, Ted Yoho and Rand Weber.

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“The American people are resilient, but they have suffered tremendously under the weight of this closed economy," the letter said. “Measures enacted by Congress have provided limited relief. More government is not the answer to these economic woes — reopening the economy is the answer. We are a free people with a free and fair market. The sooner we return to it, the sooner our economy will again thrive.”

The congressional Republicans encouraged Trump to heed his Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups and Opening Up America Again Congressional Group, which they called “important steps to restoring our economy and the confidence of the American people in our free market economy.”

“Thank you for your leadership in these unprecedented times,” they wrote. “We continue to pray for those who suffer and those who serve. We know that you and your team are working to mitigate against the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak while addressing the devastation to our economy.”

Officials in Maryland — Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, chief among them — are continuing their efforts to keep the virus from spreading. The state has been escalating, not lowering, its restrictions over the past months and this week began requiring face coverings to be worn in stores and on transit.

Hogan highlighted the rising number of Marylanders recovering from the coronavirus, but stressed in a news conference Friday that the state had just finished its “deadliest week to date.”

In the latest measure to contain the spread of COVID-19, Maryland public schools will remain closed until May 15, as deaths from the coronavirus pandemic have continued to increase in the state, officials announced Friday.

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