President Donald Trump outlined a plan to the nation’s governors in a letter on Thursday calling for a relaxing of the administration’s social-distancing guidelines in counties that are at a low risk of being affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Trump’s plan calls for expanded coronavirus testing throughout the United States so that counties can categorized as high, medium or low risk.
The administration is developing new guidelines it will publish based on the three different risk levels.
“With each passing day, our increasingly extensive testing capabilities are giving us a better understanding of the virus and its path,” the president wrote.
“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.”
A new letter from President Trump to governors says the White House plans to release new guidelines for local policy makers. Key line: “Using these data-driven criteria, we will suggest guidelines categorizing counties as “high-risk, medium-risk, or low-risk.” pic.twitter.com/2HHiV5Uikr
— Daniel Strauss (@DanielStrauss4) March 26, 2020
Trump appeared to give a nod to his stated goal of getting at least part of the country back up and running as normally as possible by Easter Sunday, which is April 12.
“There is still a long battle ahead, but our efforts are already paying dividends,” he wrote.
“As we enhance protections against the virus, Americans across the country are hoping the day will soon arrive when they can resume their normal economic, social, and religious lives.”
Churches, like many businesses nationwide, have had to close their doors and go online during the coronavirus pandemic.
Easter is normally one of the highest church attendance days each year, as Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ following his death by Roman crucifixion three days before.
Passover, one of the most important holidays on the Jewish calendar, also falls on the week preceding Easter.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NPR on Thursday that the increased testing will help the administration get a stronger picture of COVID-19’s penetration into the country and drive the new social guidelines that will be adopted.
“To be honest, we don’t have all that data now uniformly throughout the country to make those determinations,” he said. “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.”
Multiple states, including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, California and Washington, have issued stay-at-home orders.
As of Thursday afternoon, nearly 520,000 Americans had been tested for the coronavirus, with just over 80,000 testing positive, according to The COVID Tracking Project.
New York state makes up nearly half of the positive tests, with about 37,000.
New York is followed by neighboring New Jersey with approximately 6,900 cases, California with more than 3,000, Michigan with roughly 2,900 and Washington with about 2,500.
Some of the states with the least number of confirmed cases are mostly in the western and mid-western parts of the country, including Montana, North and South Dakota, New Mexico, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Hawaii and Alaska, as well as West Virginia in the east.
Trump closed his letter on an upbeat note, writing, “Through it all, I am deeply inspired by the unflinching dedication of Americans in every state who are rallying together to defeat the virus.
“I look forward to witnessing that same boundless spirit drive our recovery and quickly return us to the path of exceptional health, safety, and prosperity for all of our citizens.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.