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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: 312969

Reported Deaths: 3637
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin661641115
Ramsey27766505
Anoka22149228
Dakota22015190
Washington13999115
Stearns13733116
St. Louis8747112
Scott846255
Wright775843
Olmsted665634
Sherburne587641
Clay498457
Carver474213
Blue Earth414116
Rice412836
Kandiyohi408122
Crow Wing359634
Otter Tail314322
Chisago311611
Nobles308730
Benton299451
Winona276930
Mower261623
Douglas260337
Polk256324
Morrison231629
Lyon218711
Beltrami217117
McLeod212812
Becker205415
Goodhue203228
Steele19497
Isanti190617
Itasca190423
Carlton185816
Todd181214
Nicollet162525
Mille Lacs153631
Freeborn15336
Le Sueur147011
Cass143710
Brown141315
Waseca139211
Pine13658
Meeker12879
Roseau11964
Hubbard114925
Martin113320
Wabasha10561
Redwood94619
Chippewa8877
Cottonwood8664
Renville86527
Dodge8600
Watonwan8544
Wadena8016
Sibley7934
Rock7779
Aitkin76730
Pipestone72518
Fillmore6990
Houston6984
Yellow Medicine64812
Pennington6478
Kanabec61913
Murray5873
Swift5838
Faribault5612
Pope5391
Clearwater5248
Stevens5103
Marshall4979
Unassigned49359
Jackson4881
Lake4226
Koochiching3926
Wilkin3895
Lac qui Parle3773
Lincoln3591
Norman3497
Big Stone3182
Mahnomen2964
Grant2796
Kittson2248
Red Lake2133
Traverse1481
Lake of the Woods1001
Cook720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 227398

Reported Deaths: 2368
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk33642336
Linn14352165
Scott1124986
Black Hawk10893135
Woodbury10372126
Johnson955336
Dubuque923291
Story678822
Dallas637257
Pottawattamie631970
Sioux370325
Webster358535
Cerro Gordo357144
Marshall348546
Clinton331344
Buena Vista305414
Des Moines291520
Muscatine289268
Warren281914
Plymouth276042
Wapello255772
Jones232313
Jasper217944
Marion205320
Lee203917
Carroll198422
Bremer195212
Henry18307
Crawford174616
Benton170619
Tama154340
Jackson144613
Delaware144221
Washington141314
Dickinson139210
Boone137011
Mahaska126827
Wright12456
Clay11784
Buchanan117010
Hardin115810
Page11374
Hamilton11199
Clayton11175
Cedar108413
Harrison107729
Kossuth10667
Calhoun10617
Floyd105016
Mills10487
Fayette103910
Lyon10338
Butler10216
Poweshiek99313
Winneshiek97613
Iowa95812
Winnebago93023
Hancock8677
Grundy86311
Louisa86216
Sac8608
Chickasaw8574
Cherokee8484
Allamakee81811
Cass81623
Mitchell7984
Appanoose79312
Humboldt7715
Union7706
Shelby76511
Emmet76424
Guthrie75415
Franklin73921
Jefferson7142
Madison6864
Unassigned6690
Palo Alto6554
Keokuk5997
Howard5599
Pocahontas5584
Greene5250
Osceola5241
Ida48913
Clarke4874
Davis4709
Taylor4653
Montgomery46311
Monroe44412
Adair4418
Monona4352
Worth3630
Fremont3583
Van Buren3585
Lucas3256
Decatur3170
Wayne3007
Audubon2962
Ringgold2112
Adams1702
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