Coronavirus: Amazon's Bezos, Facebook's Zuckerberg join White House phone calls on reopening US economy

Jeff Bezos (left) and Mark Zuckerberg participated in White House conference calls.
Jeff Bezos (left) and Mark Zuckerberg participated in White House conference calls.PHOTOS: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Jeff Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon.com, and Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO, on Wednesday (April 15) participated in White House conference calls about how to reopen the US economy in light of the coronavirus pandemic, company representatives said.

The phone calls followed an announcement Tuesday by President Donald Trump about the formation of advisory groups on how to open up the country, which include other top U.S.

executives such as Apple Inc CEO Tim Cook and JPMorgan Chase & Co chief Jamie Dimon.

Business leaders told Trump the country needs much more coronavirus testing before the public would be confident enough to participate in reopening the economy, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The president, on Twitter, called the calls "very productive", adding that corporate leaders were "all-in on getting America back to work, and soon."

Some 94 per cent of Americans have been under government stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which causes the potentially lethal respiratory illness Covid-19.

The orders, including mandatory business closures, have battered the US economy and left millions of Americans unemployed.

Trump has turned to Corporate America to help plot a course forward. He has often sought business leaders' assistance, as with a previously announced drive-through testing program with prominent retailers including Walmart Inc.

However, relations between the White House and Amazon - the world's largest online retailer - have at times appeared strained. Trump, for instance, has described the Bezos-owned Washington Post as Amazon's "chief lobbyist."

The top editor of the newspaper, which has published articles critical of the president, has said Bezos has no involvement in its news coverage.