President Trump speaks to the press at the White House on May 21. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images
President Trump told reporters on Thursday that while a second wave of the novel coronavirus is "a very distinct possibility," the U.S. should not issue widespread lockdowns or stay-at-home orders to fight the next outbreak.
Why it matters: This strategy would be a reversal of the administration's previous support for stay-at-home orders, most notably by NIAID Director Anthony Fauci. Trump has frequently hedged on how long the country should remain closed.
Flashback: "I’ll tell you what — I did something that the experts thought I shouldn’t have done: I closed down our country and our borders. I did a ban on China from coming in, other than U.S. citizens. And we did very strong checks on even our U.S. citizens," Trump said in late April, stressing the benefits of the administration's actions.
- "We were early. We were early, Jeff, because of the fact that we closed early. That was a big move," Trump told reporters at a White House briefing in late March.
- "No, I think we made people aware to stay in your houses and do good," Trump said at another White House briefing, when asked about his short-lived consideration to quarantine New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut.
Where it stands: Fauci told the Post this week that he has "no doubt" there will be new waves of the virus, with infections possibly rising in the fall. Many scientists say a second wave may not hold until then, the New York Times reports.
- Stay-at-home orders have been issued on a state-by-state basis, with governors deciding how long their economies can withstand shuttered business and isolated people.
- The official White House stance on states issuing stay-at-home orders has been to defer to each governor's judgement. Nearly every state has taken steps to reopen parts or the entirety of their economy, per a NYT analysis.
What he's saying: "People say that's a very distinct possibility, it's standard, and we're gonna put out the fires," Trump said, when asked if he was concerned about a second wave of the virus. "We're not going to close the country, we're going to put out the fires.There could be, whether it's an ember or a flame, we're gonna put it out. But we're not closing our country."