[guest post by Dana]
Working toward his goal of having the economy up and running by Easter (April 12), President Trump is proposing new guidelines based on geographic risk:
President Trump said in a letter to U.S. governors on Thursday that his administration is working to publish new guidelines for state and local governments to use when making decisions about “maintaining, increasing or relaxing social distancing and other mitigation measures” for the coronavirus epidemic.
Trump said officials are gathering testing data that will suggest guidelines categorizing counties as “high risk, medium risk or low risk” for the virus. The data will drive “the next phase” of the response, he said.
Here is the critical part of his letter:
This is what we envision: Our expanding testing capabilities will quickly enable us to publish criteria, developed in close coordination with the Nation’s public health officials and scientists, to help classify counties with respect to continued risk posed by the virus. This will incorporate robust surveillance testing, which allows us to monitor the spread of the virus throughout the country. Under these data-driven criteria, we will suggest guidelines categorizing counties as high-risk, medium-risk, or low-risk.
With each passing day, our increasingly extensive testing capabilities are giving us a better understanding of the virus and its path. As testing gives us more information about who has been infected, we are tracking the virus and isolating it to prevent further spread. This new information will drive the next phase in our war against this invisible enemy.
This comes one day after Dr. Anthony Fauci cautioned about setting any sort of timetable:
You’ve got to understand that you don’t make the timeline, the virus makes the timeline. So you’ve got to respond in what you see happen. And if you keep seeing this acceleration, it doesn’t matter what you say. One week, two weeks, three weeks — you’ve got to go with what the situation on the ground is.
CNN notes that a task force member said that the guidelines were a work in progress, and that, surprisingly-not-surprisingly, not all the members of the White House coronavirus task force saw the President’s letter before it was released publicly.
While Trump wants to see businesses up and running, he said in a news conference today that social distancing measures should still be observed when Americans returned to work:
“When we are open, as soon as we open, that doesn’t mean you will be stop the guidelines. You will still try and distance yourself. Maybe not to the same extent because you have to lead a life, but the timing is coming,”
On his conference call with governers, the President again reiterated his view that
the country needs to reopen soon and that not every place needs to be under the same restrictions…[and] said certain places had almost no problems with the virus and shouldn’t be kept to the same restrictions as areas with high case loads.