President Trump has told governors his administration is working on publishing guidelines for state and local governments to use to determine whether to increase or relax social distancing rules to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
The announcement came ahead of the White House’s regular news conference on its response to the pandemic.
Trump is under pressure to restart parts of the moribund economy, stalled by skyrocketing unemployment as workers are urged to stay home and companies shut their doors.
He told governors in a letter that the administration will use data from expanded testing for the virus to categorized counties as high, medium or low risk. That data will drive the “next phase” of the response to the pandemic, he said.
Trump has said he would like people in parts of the country that have not experienced massive outbreaks to be able to go back to work, perhaps around April 12. He did not provide details on dates in his letter.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, an immunologist and key member of the White House coronavirus task force, told NPR’s Noel King on Morning Edition that increased testing could help parts of the country that aren’t currently experiencing outbreaks to trace and isolate cases.
But he warned that testing was still ramping up.
“To be honest, we don’t have all that data now uniformly throughout the country to make those determinations,” Fauci 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.”
Trump’s letter comes a day after the Senate overwhelmingly approved a $2 trillion economic relief package. The House is expected to vote on the bill by the end of the week.