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Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at a coronavirus briefing Tuesday that President Trump's target date of Easter to ease social distancing is "really very flexible."

Why it matters: Trump's suggestion earlier Tuesday that he would order parts of the economy to be restarted by April 12 has sparked concern among health experts, many of whom warn that it could cause the number of coronavirus cases to skyrocket and overwhelm the health system.

  • As Axios previously reported, Trump is being told by his political and economic advisers that the economic damage from a prolonged shutdown would be significant.
  • The opposing views could set up a clash when the White House's "15 Days to Slow the Spread" plan expires next week.

What they're saying: "You can look at a date, but you've got to be very flexible — on a literally day-by-day and week-by-week basis. ... Obviously, no one is going to want to tone down things when you see what's going on in a place like New York City. That's just good public health practice and common sense," Fauci said.

  • "But the country is a big country. And there are areas of the country ... that we really need to know more about what the penetrance is there. So, if we do the kind of testing ... and you find after a period of time that there are areas that are very different from other areas of the country, you may not want to essentially treat it as a just one force for the entire country. But look at flexibility in different areas," he added.

Fauci's bottom line: "I think people might get the misinterpretation — [we're] just going to lift everything up. ... That's not going to happen. It's going to be looking at the data."

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Science

The "war on nature"

A resident stands on his roof as the Blue Ridge Fire burned back in October in Chino Hills, Calif. Photo: Jae C. Hong/AP

Apocalyptic weather is the new normal because humans are "waging war on nature," the UN declared on Wednesday.

What they're saying: "The state of the planet is broken," said UN Secretary-General António Guterres, reports AP. “This is suicidal.”

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: Nursing homes are still getting pummeledU.S. could hit herd immunity by end of summer 2021 if Americans embrace virus vaccines, Fauci says.
  2. Politics: Pelosi, Schumer call on McConnell to adopt bipartisan $900B stimulus framework.
  3. World: U.K. clears Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for mass rollout — Putin says Russia will begin large-scale vaccination next week.
  4. Business: Investors are finally starting to take their money out of safe-haven Treasuries.
  5. Sports: The end of COVID’s grip on sports may be in sight.

Pelosi, Schumer call on McConnell to adopt bipartisan $900B stimulus framework

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Nov. 20. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to use a $908 billion bipartisan coronavirus relief framework as a basis for jumpstarting negotiations.

Why it matters: The framework, introduced by a group of bipartisan senators on Tuesday, calls for significantly less funding than Pelosi had previously demanded — a sign that Democrats are ready to further compromise as millions of Americans endure economic hardship.