Trump weighs scaling back social distancing guidelines

With lives and the economy hanging in the balance, President Donald Trump said Tuesday he is hoping the country will be reopened by Easter, as he weighs how to refine nationwide social-distancing guidelines to put some workers back on the job amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Posted: Mar 24, 2020 2:11 PM
Updated: Mar 24, 2020 3:07 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — With lives and the economy hanging in the balance, President Donald Trump said Tuesday he is hoping the country will be reopened by Easter, as he weighs how to refine nationwide social-distancing guidelines to put some workers back on the job amid the coronavirus outbreak.

As many public health officials call for stricter, not looser restrictions on public interactions, Trump said he was already looking toward easing the advisories that have sidelined workers, shuttered schools and led to a widespread economic slowdown.

“I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” he said during a Fox News virtual town hall.

The U.S. is now more than a week into an unprecedented 15-day effort to encourage all Americans to drastically scale back their public activities.

“I gave it two weeks,” Trump said during the virtual town hall from the Rose Garden. He argued that tens of thousands of Americans die from the seasonal flu or in automobile accidents and “we don’t turn the country off.”

“We’ll assess at that time and we’ll give it some more time if we need a little more time, but we need to open this country up,” he added. “We have to go back to work, much sooner than people thought.”

The reassessment comes as the White House is encouraging lawmakers on Capitol Hill to pass a roughly $2 trillion stimulus package to ease the financial pain for Americans and hard-hit industries.

Appearing before the president at the virtual town hall, Vice President Mike Pence said Trump has asked for recommendations from the White House coronavirus task force for how he can send people back to work while minimizing the public health risk. He said Trump wants to find a way “to open America back up.”

Trump’s enthusiasm for getting people back to work comes as he takes stock of the political toll the outbreak is taking. It sets up a potential conflict with medical professionals, including many within his government, who have called for more social restrictions to slow the spread of the virus, not fewer.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases and a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, told WMAL on Tuesday that Trump has always heeded his recommendations.

“The president has listened to what I have said and to what the other people on the task force have said, when I have made recommendations he has taken them. He’s never countered or overridden me, the idea of just pitting one against the other is just not helpful,” Fauci said.

Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic adviser, told reporters Tuesday that “public health includes economic health.”

“That’s the key point. And it’s not either-or. It’s not either-or, and that’s why we’re taking a fresh look at it,” he said.

Earlier Tuesday, Trump took to Twitter.

“Our people want to return to work,” the president tweeted. “They will practice Social Distancing and all else, and Seniors will be watched over protectively & lovingly. We can do two things together. THE CURE CANNOT BE WORSE (by far) THAN THE PROBLEM!”

During a private conference call with roughly 30 conservative leaders on Tuesday, Pence reinforced Trump’s eagerness to lift coronavirus-related work and travel restrictions “in a matter of weeks, not months.”

Pence said there would be no formal decisions made until the current 15-day period of social distancing was complete when pressed on a specific timeline for lifting restrictions, according to a conference call participant who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details of the private discussion.

Pence told the group that accommodations would need to be made for the highest-risk populations if and when restrictions begin to be lifted.

——

AP writer Steve Peoples in New York contributed to this report.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 33558

Reported Deaths: 2110
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9616571
Lake3538185
Cass15897
Allen145168
St. Joseph124834
Elkhart116328
Hendricks116171
Hamilton115693
Johnson1093108
Madison58559
Porter51627
Bartholomew50034
Clark49241
LaPorte42423
Howard39526
Tippecanoe3903
Jackson3791
Delaware37736
Shelby36822
Hancock32728
Floyd31839
Boone30935
Morgan27824
Vanderburgh2652
Montgomery23517
White2318
Decatur22431
Clinton2231
Noble21121
Grant20621
Harrison19221
Dubois1923
Henry16910
Greene16824
Monroe16612
Warrick16628
Dearborn16621
Vigo1648
Lawrence15423
Miami1411
Putnam1367
Jennings1304
Orange12522
Scott1193
Kosciusko1111
Franklin1098
Ripley1086
Carroll922
Marshall901
Daviess8516
Steuben812
Newton7710
Wayne776
Fayette767
Wabash762
LaGrange712
Jasper651
Washington521
Jay500
Fulton481
Clay471
Rush462
Randolph463
Pulaski460
Jefferson431
Whitley393
Starke363
Sullivan341
Owen341
Brown331
DeKalb331
Perry310
Benton300
Knox290
Wells280
Huntington272
Tipton251
Crawford240
Blackford242
Fountain202
Switzerland200
Spencer191
Parke170
Posey160
Gibson142
Adams131
Ohio130
Warren121
Martin110
Vermillion100
Union80
Pike60
Unassigned0164

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 117455

Reported Deaths: 5270
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook762663570
Lake8063287
DuPage7543362
Kane6188170
Will5442269
Winnebago215654
McHenry151471
St. Clair109179
Kankakee87144
Kendall76919
Rock Island64624
Champaign6177
Madison56558
Boone42817
DeKalb3924
Sangamon34629
Jackson26810
Randolph2674
McLean21713
Peoria2128
Ogle2023
Stephenson1992
Macon19519
Clinton18117
Union1519
LaSalle14713
Whiteside13512
Iroquois1314
Coles12514
Unassigned1250
Out of IL1191
Warren1130
Jefferson10116
Knox970
Grundy952
Monroe9411
McDonough878
Lee791
Cass710
Tazewell714
Henry680
Williamson642
Pulaski510
Marion500
Jasper457
Macoupin452
Adams441
Perry420
Montgomery391
Vermilion391
Morgan351
Christian334
Jo Daviess320
Livingston322
Douglas260
Menard210
Fayette203
Ford201
Jersey201
Woodford192
Mason180
Washington180
Mercer170
Hancock160
Shelby161
Bureau151
Carroll142
Bond121
Franklin120
Piatt120
Schuyler120
Clark110
Crawford110
Fulton110
Moultrie110
Brown100
Cumberland100
Logan100
Wayne91
Alexander80
Henderson80
Effingham71
Johnson70
Massac70
Saline70
Greene50
Marshall50
De Witt40
Lawrence40
Richland30
Stark30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Hamilton20
Wabash20
White20
Calhoun10
Edgar10
Hardin10
Pike10
Pope10
Putnam10
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