Trump Tells Governors He May Revise Federal Guidelines On Social Distancing
President Donald Trump sent a letter to the country’s governors on Thursday hinting that he might revise federal guidelines on social distancing, according to NPR — a move that follows his comments earlier in the week about reopening the country’s economy for Easter.
The president said his administration is preparing to publish new guidelines for "maintaining, increasing or relaxing social distancing and other mitigation measures" as states continue to grapple with the effects of the pandemic.
Whereas the administration’s current guidelines, set for a 15-day period of social distancing meant to slow the virus’ spread, applied to the country as a whole, the new social distancing guidelines may use forthcoming data to categorize counties across the U.S. as "high risk, medium risk or low risk" for the virus.
After Trump said he wanted to see American open for business by April 12, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and is a member of the president’s coronavirus task force, said the timeline needs to remain “flexible.”
He also suggested that any new guidelines would be data-driven, while acknowledging that the current data are insufficient for making such decisions.
"To be honest, we don't have all that data now uniformly throughout the country to make those determinations. But that's a major, primary goal that we have right now, is to get those data, because you have to make informed decisions and your decisions are informed by the information you have," Fauci told NPR on Thursday.
He also said “that the increased testing could help parts of the country not experiencing mass outbreaks to identify, test, trace and isolate cases.”
Public health officials have warned that relaxing social distancing measures too soon could result in significant increases in cases, which would overwhelm health care systems and potentially do even greater damage to the economy.