President Trump says feds developing new guidelines for virus risk

President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Briefing Room, Thursday, March 26, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

In a letter Thursday to the nation's governors, Trump says the new guidelines are meant to enable state and local leaders to make “decisions about maintaining, increasing, or relaxing social distancing and other measures they have put in place.”

Posted: Mar 26, 2020 5:20 PM
Updated: Mar 26, 2020 6:37 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Thursday that federal officials are developing guidelines to rate counties by risk of virus spread, as he aims to begin to ease nationwide guidelines meant to stem the coronavirus outbreak.

In a letter to the nation's governors, Trump said the new guidelines are meant to enable state and local leaders to make “decisions about maintaining, increasing, or relaxing social distancing and other measures they have put in place.” States and municipalities would still retain authority to set whatever restrictions deem necessary.

He has been trying for days to determine how to contain the economic fallout of the guidelines issued by his administration as well as local leaders to slow the tide of infections.

“Every day that we stay out it gets harder to bring it back very quickly," Trump said during a Thursday press conference.

Last week Trump unveiled a 15-day program advising against large gatherings and calling for many Americans to remain at home. The guidelines, issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are voluntary, but many state and local leaders have issued mandatory restrictions in line with, or even tighter than, those issued by the CDC.

The White House was still developing the new guidelines and gathering the data to back them up, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coordinator for coronavirus response, told reporters Thurday.

“What we are trying to do is utilize a very laser-focused approach rather than an generic horizontal approach," she said.

Birx acknowledged concerns that people could simply move between areas with different infection risks — and potentially different restrictions on movement and gathering amid the outbreak.

“Part of this will be the need to have highly responsible behavior between counties,” she said, saying the administration would provide additional guidance to states next week, once the new plan is finalized.

Two administration officials said it would not involve any restrictions on travel between hotspots and those with lower rates of infection.

Trump announced Thursday that he would visit Norfolk, Virginia, on Saturday to see off the USNS Comfort, the 1,000-bed hospital ship heading to assist New York in responding to the virus.

On a conference call with governors Thursday, Trump stressed the need to reopen businesses and to recognize regional differences in the virus’ impact.

“We all have to get smart,” Trump said on the call, audio of which was obtained by The Associated Press. “We have to open up our country, I'm sorry.”

Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves, who has not ordered business closures or limits on social behavior, thanked Trump for recognizing that the virus has affected states differently and “one size does not fit all.”

“I appreciate you realizing that,” Reeves said.

The announcement of the forthcoming new guidelines comes days after Trump said he hoped to “reopen” the country by Easter.

“I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter," he said Tuesday during a Fox News virtual town hall. Easter is just over two weeks away — Apr. 12.

“Wouldn't it be great to have all of the churches full?" Trump said in a subsequent interview. “You'll have packed churches all over our country.”

Health experts have made clear that unless Americans continue to dramatically limit social interaction — staying home from work and isolating themselves — the number of infections will overwhelm the health care system, as it has in parts of Italy, leading to many more deaths.

And scientists, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, have cautioned against artificial timetables.

“And you've got to understand that you don't make the timeline, the virus makes the timeline,” Fauci told CNN Wednesday. “So you've got to respond, in what you see happen.”

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Trump developed the Easter date as a goal to give people “hope.”

“I think, Easter, the president was giving people a lot of hope and basically telling us it won’t last forever, and we’ll see what happens over time," she told reporters Thursday.

While the worst outbreaks are concentrated in certain parts of the country, most significantly in New York, experts warn that the highly infectious disease is certain to spread.

Trump said the rollout of additional testing will enable more nuanced recommendations that would allow some lesser-impacted parts of the country to regain a sense of normalcy sooner.

“Our expanded 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 risks posed by the virus," Trump said.

Trump, appearing to allude to the forthcoming guidelines, promised that there would be new favorable “statistics” and “facts” coming from the federal government in the next two days.

"Some good statistics are coming out which will make your lives easier,” Trump said.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 594427

Reported Deaths: 7389
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1229681733
Ramsey51530876
Dakota46037452
Anoka41844440
Washington26983283
Stearns22293222
St. Louis17814305
Scott17324126
Wright16121140
Olmsted1326598
Sherburne1175388
Carver1051245
Clay816792
Rice8075108
Blue Earth751941
Crow Wing666990
Kandiyohi657383
Chisago603251
Otter Tail575878
Benton572397
Goodhue478772
Douglas468576
Mower466732
Winona455150
Itasca440556
McLeod425459
Isanti424864
Morrison419860
Nobles408148
Beltrami397859
Steele389315
Polk384968
Becker381153
Lyon361251
Carlton346054
Freeborn342129
Pine329122
Nicollet326443
Brown305840
Mille Lacs305353
Le Sueur293123
Todd282832
Cass274628
Meeker257340
Waseca236522
Martin230932
Roseau209419
Wabasha20643
Hubbard190241
Dodge18543
Renville180543
Redwood174537
Houston172016
Cottonwood165823
Fillmore156710
Wadena156122
Pennington153719
Faribault152619
Chippewa152438
Kanabec145126
Sibley143910
Aitkin135336
Watonwan13329
Rock128419
Jackson121812
Pipestone116026
Yellow Medicine114220
Pope11096
Murray10639
Swift105818
Stevens91511
Marshall88117
Clearwater87016
Koochiching84315
Wilkin81612
Lake81120
Lac qui Parle75322
Big Stone6004
Lincoln5813
Grant5788
Mahnomen5539
Norman5409
Unassigned49593
Kittson48622
Red Lake3987
Traverse3705
Lake of the Woods3273
Cook1660

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 367374

Reported Deaths: 5946
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk57696628
Linn20903335
Scott20071242
Black Hawk15825308
Woodbury15141228
Johnson1449883
Dubuque13382209
Dallas1118698
Pottawattamie11140168
Story1062848
Warren577889
Clinton556193
Cerro Gordo541289
Sioux514574
Webster512293
Marshall483275
Muscatine4812100
Des Moines458966
Wapello4305122
Buena Vista424940
Jasper419472
Plymouth401280
Lee376255
Marion363175
Jones299157
Henry292037
Carroll286052
Bremer284960
Crawford266240
Boone265134
Benton256655
Washington253950
Dickinson248543
Mahaska230451
Jackson222142
Clay215725
Kossuth215564
Tama209871
Delaware209741
Winneshiek196935
Page192722
Buchanan191532
Cedar190123
Hardin185743
Fayette185241
Wright184637
Hamilton180249
Harrison179673
Clayton169756
Butler165034
Madison162519
Mills162422
Floyd161142
Cherokee159038
Lyon158241
Poweshiek154934
Allamakee151451
Iowa148924
Hancock148434
Winnebago142631
Cass138654
Calhoun138413
Grundy136433
Emmet134240
Jefferson132735
Shelby130937
Sac130519
Union128333
Louisa128149
Appanoose128049
Mitchell126442
Chickasaw124116
Guthrie121530
Franklin120821
Humboldt119126
Palo Alto112823
Howard104622
Montgomery103338
Clarke100224
Unassigned9720
Keokuk95931
Monroe95229
Ida90635
Adair86532
Pocahontas85522
Davis83524
Monona82730
Osceola78816
Greene77710
Lucas77223
Worth7498
Taylor66012
Fremont6229
Decatur6089
Van Buren55918
Ringgold55824
Wayne53923
Audubon50910
Adams3384
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