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President Trump says new guidelines aim to lift some restrictions

President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House, Tuesday, April 14, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Current social distancing guidelines would remain in place for harder-hit states. But business leaders are telling Trump they need more coronavirus testing and personal protective equipment before people can safely go back to work.

Posted: Apr 16, 2020 6:00 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said he's prepared to announce new guidelines allowing some states to quickly ease up on social distancing even as business leaders told him they need more coronavirus testing and personal protective equipment before people can safely go back to work.

The industry executives cautioned Trump that the return to normalcy will be anything but swift.

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The new guidelines, expected to be announced Thursday, are aimed at clearing the way for an easing of restrictions in areas with low transmission of the coronavirus, while keeping them in place in harder-hit places. The ultimate decisions will remain with governors.

“We’ll be opening some states much sooner than others,” Trump said Wednesday.

But in a round of calls with business leaders earlier in the day, Trump was warned that a dramatic increasing in testing and wider availability of protective equipment will be necessary for the safe restoration of their operations.

The new guidelines come as the federal government envisions a gradual recovery from the virus, in which disruptive mitigation measures may be needed in some places at least until a vaccine is available — a milestone unlikely to be reached until next year.

Trump said at his daily briefing that data indicates the U.S. is “past the peak” of the COVID-19 epidemic, clearing the way for his plans to roll out guidelines to begin to “reopen” the country.

He called the latest data “encouraging,” saying the numbers have “put us in a very strong position to finalize guidelines for states on reopening the country.”

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, added that data from across the country showed the nation “improving” but that Americans had to recommit to social distancing to keep up the positive momentum.

She said nine states have fewer than 1,000 cases and just a few dozen new cases per day. She said those would likely be the first to see a lifting in social distancing restrictions at the direction of their governors under the guidelines set to be released Thursday.

Birx said the White House was particularly concerned about Rhode Island, noting it is now seeing a surge in cases from the Boston metro area after seeing a spike several weeks ago from cases from New York.

Trump consulted dozens of high-profile CEOs, union officials and other executives via conference calls Wednesday.

He received a mixed message from the industry leaders. They, too, said they want to get the economy going but had worries about how to safely do so.

In a tweet midway through Trump’s round of conference calls with the executives, the president said the participants were “all-in on getting America back to work, and soon.”

But participants in a morning call that included dozens of leading American companies raised concerns about the testing issue, according to one participant who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private discussion.

Another person who participated in Wednesday's calls said it was stressed to Trump that expansion of testing and contact tracing was crucial, as well as guidelines for best practices on reopening businesses in phases or in one fell swoop.

The participant said those on the call noted to the administration that there was about to be a massive rush on personal protective equipment. Many businesses that are now shuttered will need the protective equipment to keep their employees and customers safe.

Trump was told "the economy will look very different and operations will look very different," one participant said.

Mark Cuban, the billionaire entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, was among several representatives from major sports leagues to speak with Trump. During a Fox News Channel interview ahead of the calls, he credited the president with gathering some of the “best of the best” to help shape his approach on reopening the economy. Still, Cuban did not embrace Trump’s push to reopen parts of the economy May 1.

“This is such a moving target that I think the biggest mistake we can make is rush to a decision,” said Cuban, who previously had been critical of Trump’s response to the pandemic. “But I’m going to help him in every way I can, whatever he needs me to do.”

The panel, which Trump dubbed the new Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups, also could help give Trump a measure of cover. If cases surge once restrictions are lifted, as many experts have warned, Trump will be able to tell the public he didn’t act alone and the nation’s top minds — from manufacturing to defense to technology — helped shape the plan.

Rich Nolan, president and CEO of the National Mining Association, who participated in one of the calls with Trump, said there was also discussion about tax relief as well as “making sure that people are optimistic about the economy and they feel safe coming back to work.”

“I think you’ll see steps to reopen the country at different rates in different states in the not too distant future,” Nolan said.

The launch of the council was not without hiccups.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka didn’t know until he heard his name announced in the Rose Garden on Tuesday that he would be part of the advisory group, according to Carolyn Bobb, a spokeswoman for the union.

“We were not asked,” Bobb said in an email. It was “just announced.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Trump has appointed some “smart people” to his task force who could offer state leaders helpful guidelines as they negotiate the way forward.

"There are certain roles that only the federal government can play and should play, but I think the governors are going to make their own decisions within those recommended guidelines,” Hogan said.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 97638

Reported Deaths: 2067
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin27372932
Ramsey11088322
Dakota7635126
Anoka6238137
Stearns407724
Washington388355
Scott262533
Olmsted251928
Nobles197716
Blue Earth17266
Wright16957
St. Louis165941
Carver14377
Clay141741
Rice13438
Mower13425
Sherburne116914
Kandiyohi10552
Winona91318
Lyon7224
Waseca6898
Benton5603
Crow Wing55518
Steele5552
Freeborn5464
Nicollet54517
Watonwan5304
Chisago5131
Todd5042
McLeod5012
Le Sueur4744
Otter Tail4624
Beltrami4505
Martin43010
Goodhue3829
Itasca34715
Pine3430
Douglas3372
Polk3224
Isanti3151
Becker2812
Carlton2761
Morrison2682
Dodge2570
Pipestone23210
Cottonwood2280
Chippewa2231
Meeker2132
Wabasha2020
Sibley1993
Brown1962
Yellow Medicine1902
Cass1844
Redwood1773
Rock1760
Murray1722
Mille Lacs1693
Renville1578
Unassigned15452
Jackson1491
Faribault1470
Swift1441
Fillmore1330
Houston1280
Kanabec1278
Roseau1250
Koochiching1233
Pennington1201
Hubbard1171
Lincoln1160
Stevens1041
Pope990
Aitkin831
Big Stone830
Wadena720
Wilkin703
Lac qui Parle651
Grant634
Lake600
Norman540
Marshall531
Mahnomen491
Red Lake451
Traverse340
Clearwater280
Lake of the Woods231
Kittson120
Cook60

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 86860

Reported Deaths: 1315
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk16010262
Woodbury555467
Johnson517027
Black Hawk450990
Linn4101113
Story346217
Dubuque333241
Scott304528
Dallas280738
Pottawattamie215939
Buena Vista199912
Marshall179134
Sioux16803
Wapello134057
Webster128014
Plymouth116121
Clinton113021
Muscatine112155
Crawford11005
Cerro Gordo105921
Warren9666
Jasper86432
Des Moines8008
Marion7697
Henry7554
Tama73932
Carroll6855
Lee6437
Wright5961
Dickinson5306
Boone5178
Bremer5027
Washington47211
Louisa43115
Delaware4233
Mahaska41519
Floyd3543
Jackson3523
Franklin35118
Lyon3514
Winneshiek3406
Clay3344
Hamilton3323
Benton3281
Winnebago31713
Hardin3071
Poweshiek3078
Buchanan2861
Jones2843
Kossuth2800
Butler2752
Emmet27010
Clarke2683
Shelby2681
Allamakee2666
Chickasaw2661
Sac2650
Clayton2633
Cherokee2552
Cedar2521
Guthrie2527
Harrison2523
Fayette2312
Madison2272
Grundy2243
Iowa2161
Palo Alto2050
Hancock1952
Howard1927
Humboldt1913
Mitchell1910
Calhoun1873
Mills1831
Page1710
Cass1692
Osceola1690
Pocahontas1652
Monona1601
Monroe16011
Lucas1566
Appanoose1423
Jefferson1391
Union1383
Taylor1321
Davis1274
Ida1261
Fremont1210
Van Buren1151
Keokuk1141
Worth1090
Greene1030
Montgomery975
Audubon871
Wayne872
Adair721
Decatur670
Ringgold532
Adams330
Unassigned140
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