In a letter to all United States governors on Thursday, President Trump announced that his administration would be setting forth guidelines to determine counties by risk of spreading the novel Wuhan coronavirus. Acknowledging the dramatic increase in testing availability for the virus, Trump laid out his vision for potentially relaxing quarantine regulations in parts of the country.
The president teleconferenced with the governors on Thursday and discussed the widespread economic impact of the virus throughout all 50 states and U.S. territories. The letter reflects knowledge that some counties, cities, and states are more at risk to spread than others. Despite pushback from Democrats and many media sources, Trump has remained steadfast through the last few White House Coronavirus Task Force briefings that he hopes to have significantly combatted the spread of the illness by Easter.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, an immunologist, key advisor to the president, and member of the Task Force, has exercised slightly more caution when suggesting any kind of timeline in which a return to normalcy could be expected. However, Dr. Fauci agreed that increased testing would give the country a much clearer perspective.
"Today the testing situation is infinitely better than what it was a few weeks ago," he said during a Thursday interview with NPR. "We now have hundreds of thousands of tests out there. And in the next week or so, we'll be having like a million a week. In the beginning, it was a slow start. But right now that the commercial firms have gotten involved, we really have caught up. And we will be seeing a much improved system with regard to the availability and the implementation of testing."
Trump has received criticism for expressing confidence that the United States government, in collaboration with the private sector, would be able to defeat the Wuhan coronavirus and restart the economy, but has not ceded any optimism.
March 26, 2020
To America's Governors:
"As you know, on March 16, 2020, I published my Coronavirus Guidelines for America. States, localities, and citizens across our country have responded to this call to action in full force, making tremendous sacrifices in support of our National effort to defeat the virus. I want to thank each of you, along with your frontline responders and essential workers, for stepping up to help America confront this unprecedented global pandemic. Together, we are proving that no challenge can match the indomitable strength, ingenuity, and determination of the American people.
There is still a long battle ahead, but our efforts are already paying dividends. As we enhance protections against the virus, Americans across the country are hoping the day will soon arrive when they can resume their normal economic, social, and religious lives.
In furtherance of this shared goal, my Administration is working to publish new guidelines for State and local policymakers to use in making decisions about maintaining, increasing, or relaxing social distancing and other mitigation measures they have put in place.
This is what we envision: Our expanded testing capabilities will quickly enable us to publish criteria, developed in close coordination with the Nation’s public health officials and scientists, to help classify counties with respect to continued risks posed by the virus. This will incorporate robust surveillance testing, which allows us to monitor the spread of the virus throughout the country. Under these data-driven criteria, we will suggest guidelines categorizing counties as high-risk, medium-risk, or low-risk.
With each passing day, our increasingly extensive testing capabilities are giving us a better understanding of the virus and its path. As testing gives us more information about who has been infected, we are tracking the virus and isolating it to prevent further spread. This new information will drive the next phase in our war against this invisible enemy.
The virus has inflicted a heavy toll on our country. A number of our fellow citizens have tragically succumbed to its ravages, while many more are fighting for their lives. We mourn alongside those who have lost loved ones, and we send our prayers for the recovery of all who are still sick. In their honor, we pledge to marshal every resource and power we have to overcome and vanquish this threat."
The Senate passed the $2 trillion CARES Act on Thursday, sending it to the House of Representatives, which will conduct a voice vote on Friday, in the interest of practicing safe social distancing. Should the House pass the bill as expected, Trump has said he will sign it into law as soon as possible to get money back into the hands of American businesses and workers.
The White House Coronavirus Task Force will again address the nation Thursday evening at 5:00 pm, where it is expected that the president will expound upon the directives given to the governors earlier in the day.