Mar 24, 2020 - Health

Fauci on Trump's Easter timeline: "That's really very flexible"

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."

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Advisers steer Trump to drop back-to-work deadline

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins in the socially distanced White House briefing room. Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Believing the worst is yet to come, some top advisers to President Trump are struggling to steer him away from Easter as an arbitrary deadline for much of the nation to reopen.

State of play: The operating assumption among administration officials involved in the coronavirus planning is that the April 12 mark — 16 days away — will not, in fact, turn out to be the starting gun for businesses across America to reopen.

Go deeperArrowMar 27, 2020 - Health

White House urges public to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people

The White House's coronavirus task force announced tougher guidelines on Monday to help slow the spread of the disease, including limiting social gatherings of more than 10 people.

Why it matters: The tougher guidelines, which will be in place for at least a 15-day period, come as the number of reported cases in the U.S. has surpassed 4,000. President Trump said the changes to everyday life as a result of the crisis could be the "new normal" in the U.S. until July or August.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Mar 16, 2020 - Health

Obama: Keep social distancing for the sake of "our medical heroes"

Obama at an Obama Foundation event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, December 2019. Photo: Zahim Mohd/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama on Wednesday called for Americans to stay at home and maintain social distancing for the sake of doctors, nurses and medical staff treating coronavirus patients across the country.

Why it matters: President Trump said at a Fox News town hall Tuesday that he would "love" to have the country "opened up, and just raring to go" by Easter, or April 12, despite warnings from public health officials that easing social distancing restrictions too soon could cause the number of coronavirus cases to skyrocket.