White House coronavirus response coordinator Debbie Brix, Vice President Mike Pence and President Trump during a task force meeting this month. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Health officials and two state governors are pushing back after President Trump's suggested Monday that physical distancing restrictions introduced to clamp down on the spread of the novel coronavirus will be lifted "fairly soon."

The big picture: Trump told a briefing, "If it were up to the doctors, they may say let's keep it shut down — let's shut down the entire world." The president added that the U.S. "wasn't built to be shut down."

  • Trump said Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the Trump administration task force, "doesn't not agree" with him on easing restrictions.
  • Fauci, who wasn't at Monday's briefing, told CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday: "The things that we're seeing in this country, this physical separation at the same time as we're preventing an influx of cases coming in, I think that's going to go a long way to preventing us from becoming another Italy."

What they're saying: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) tweeted, "If it's public health versus the economy, the only choice is public health. You cannot put a value on human life."

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), who announced Monday the "soft closure" of state beaches and parks to curb the spread of the virus, told reporters of Trump's suggestion, "We clearly are operating under a different set of assumptions. ... we're moving in different direction."

  • He added he has "no trepidation whatever he does from a national prism will get in the way of our state’s efforts."

Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said in a Twitter thread to drop all the measures in place would be to accept that coronavirus patients "will get sick in extraordinary numbers all over the country, far beyond what the U.S. health care system could bear."

  • "Anyone advising the end of social distancing now, needs to fully understand what the country will look like if we do that. COVID would spread widely, rapidly, terribly, could kill potentially millions in the yr ahead with huge social and economic impact across the country," Inglesby said.

Arthur Caplan, a professor of bioethics at NYU Langone Medical Center, told the New York Times, "You can't call off the best weapon we have, which is social isolation, even out of economic desperation, unless you're willing to be responsible for a mountain of deaths."

  • Caplan added 30 days of restrictions "makes more sense than 15 days." "Can't we try to put people's lives first for at least a month?" he said.

Howard Koh, a Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health professor and former Obama administration public health official, told Politico it's "way too early to even consider rolling back any guidelines."

  • "With cases and deaths rising by the day, the country must double down, not lighten up, on social distancing and related measures," he added.

Scott Gottlieb, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner, said in a Twitter thread, "There’s a strong and understandable desire to return to better times and a functioning economy. But it should not be lost on anyone that there's no such thing as a functioning economy and society so long as covid-19 continues to spread uncontrolled in our biggest cities.

The state of play: COVID-19 had infected more than 46,000 people and killed 593 others in the U.S. by Tuesday morning, per Johns Hopkins data. The U.S. has the third-highest number of cases in the world, behind Italy (almost 64,000 infections) and China (over 81,000 cases).

Go deeper

Updated 23 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 31,778,331 — Total deaths: 974,436 — Total recoveries: 21,876,025Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 6,943,078 — Total deaths: 201,930 — Total recoveries: 2,670,256 — Total tests: 97,459,742Map.
  3. Health: CDC director says over 90% of Americans have not yet been exposed to coronavirus — Supply shortages continue to plague testing.
  4. Politics: Missouri Gov. Mike Parson tests positive for coronavirus — Poll says 51% of Republicans trust Trump on coronavirus more than the CDC.
  5. Technology: The tech solutions of 2020 may be sapping our resolve to beat the coronavirus
  6. Vaccines: Johnson & Johnson begins large phase 3 trial — The FDA plans to toughen standards.
  7. Sports: Less travel is causing the NBA to see better basketball.
  8. Future: America's halfway coronavirus response

Biden: Breonna Taylor indictment "does not answer" call for justice

Former Vice President Joe Biden. Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday condemned the grand jury indictment of a Louisville police officer who entered Breonna Taylor's home in March in a botched drug raid that led to her death, saying in a statement the decision "does not answer" for equal justice.

The big picture: Biden called for reforms to address police use of force and no-knock warrants, while demanding a ban on chokeholds. He added that people "have a right to peacefully protest, but violence is never acceptable."

Trump refuses to commit to peaceful transfer of power if he loses

President Trump repeatedly refused to say on Wednesday whether he would commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses the election to Joe Biden, saying at a press briefing: "We're going to have to see what happens."

The big picture: Trump has baselessly claimed on a number of occasions that the only way he will lose the election is if it's "rigged," claiming — without evidence — that mail-in ballots will result in widespread fraud. Earlier on Wednesday, the president said he wants to quickly confirm a replacement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg because he believes the Supreme Court may have to decide the result of the election.

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