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Trump says feds developing new guidelines for virus risk |

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Trump says feds developing new guidelines for virus risk

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Thursday that federal officials are developing guidelines to rate counties by risk of virus spread, as he aims to begin to ease nationwide guidelines meant to stem the coronavirus outbreak.

In a letter to the nation’s governors, Trump said the new guidelines are meant to enable state and local leaders to make “decisions about maintaining, increasing, or relaxing social distancing and other measures they have put in place.” States and municipalities would still retain authority to set whatever restrictions deem necessary.

He has been trying for days to determine how to contain the economic fallout of the guidelines issued by his administration as well as local leaders to slow the tide of infections.

“Every day that we stay out it gets harder to bring it back very quickly,” Trump said during a Thursday press conference.

President Trump reiterated numerous times about how important it is for the country to get back to work.

"We have to get back to work, our people want to work; they want to go back, they have to go back," President Trump said. #8NN #coronavirus #BeInformedVegas

— 8 News NOW (@8NewsNow) March 26, 2020

"This is a country that was built on getting it done, and our people want to go back to work; I'm hearing it loud & clear from everybody" President Trump said. "So we'll see what happens. we're going to have a lot more information early next week." #coronavirus #BeInformedVegas

— 8 News NOW (@8NewsNow) March 26, 2020

Last week Trump unveiled a 15-day program advising against large gatherings and calling for many Americans to remain at home. The guidelines, issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are voluntary, but many state and local leaders have issued mandatory restrictions in line with, or even tighter than, those issued by the CDC.

The White House was still developing the new guidelines and gathering the data to back them up, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coordinator for coronavirus response, told reporters Thurday.

“What we are trying to do is utilize a very laser-focused approach rather than an generic horizontal approach,” she said.

Birx acknowledged concerns that people could simply move between areas with different infection risks — and potentially different restrictions on movement and gathering amid the outbreak.

Dr. Birx: "In the model, either you have to have a large group of people who are asymptomatic, who never presented for any tests, in order to have the kind of numbers that were predicted. #8NN #coronavirus #BeInformedVegas

— 8 News NOW (@8NewsNow) March 26, 2020

Dr. Birx continued: "To get to 60 million pple infected or 6 million pple infected. Because in no country to date have we seen an attack rate over 1 & a thousand."#8NN #coronavirus #BeInformedVegas https://t.co/rCJkeWDmOI

— 8 News NOW (@8NewsNow) March 26, 2020

“Part of this will be the need to have highly responsible behavior between counties,” she said, saying the administration would provide additional guidance to states next week, once the new plan is finalized.

Two administration officials said it would not involve any restrictions on travel between hotspots and those with lower rates of infection.

#Coronavirus cases are concentrated in highly urban areas, Birx said. "There are other parts of the states that have lots of venitlators and other parts of New York state that don't have any infections right now. So we can be creative, we can meet the need by being responsive."

— 8 News NOW (@8NewsNow) March 26, 2020

Trump announced Thursday that he would visit Norfolk, Virginia, on Saturday to see off the USNS Comfort, the 1,000-bed hospital ship heading to assist New York in responding to the virus.

U.S.N.S. Comfort will be on the way to NYC on Saturday. The naval hospital ship will be in the New York Harbor on Monday, President Trump said. The ship is loaded with medical supplies. "It's loaded to the top," President Trump said. #8NN #coronavirus #BeInformedVegas

— 8 News NOW (@8NewsNow) March 26, 2020

On a conference call with governors Thursday, Trump stressed the need to reopen businesses and to recognize regional differences in the virus’ impact.

“We all have to get smart,” Trump said on the call, audio of which was obtained by The Associated Press. “We have to open up our country, I’m sorry.”

Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves, who has not ordered business closures or limits on social behavior, thanked Trump for recognizing that the virus has affected states differently and “one size does not fit all.”

“I appreciate you realizing that,” Reeves said.

The announcement of the forthcoming new guidelines comes days after Trump said he hoped to “reopen” the country by Easter.

“I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” he said Tuesday during a Fox News virtual town hall. Easter is just over two weeks away — Apr. 12.

“Wouldn’t it be great to have all of the churches full?” Trump said in a subsequent interview. “You’ll have packed churches all over our country.”

Health experts have made clear that unless Americans continue to dramatically limit social interaction — staying home from work and isolating themselves — the number of infections will overwhelm the health care system, as it has in parts of Italy, leading to many more deaths.

And scientists, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, have cautioned against artificial timetables.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a briefing on coronavirus in the Brady press briefing room at the White House, Saturday, March 14, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

“And you’ve got to understand that you don’t make the timeline, the virus makes the timeline,” Fauci told CNN Wednesday. “So you’ve got to respond, in what you see happen.”

According to Dr. Fauci, the coronavirus could become a seasonal disease, so the only thing we can control is the timeline for the vaccine.

Dr. Fauci said one of the most important things to prepare ourselves for a rebound or cycling in the season of #coronavirus is to clarify the timeline of vaccines and whether or not it will have any real impact on the rebound or cycling of seasons of the virus. #BeInformedVegas

— 8 News NOW (@8NewsNow) March 26, 2020

Dr. Fauci: "The course is you first go into a phase one trial to see if its safe, and you have very few people, 45 people, within a certain age group, all healthy, none at really great risk of getting infected. That takes about 3 months or more. "#BeInformedVegas #8NN https://t.co/yPgZvVCQ8T

— 8 News NOW (@8NewsNow) March 26, 2020

Dr. Fauci: "Then you go to a phase 2 trial, which means we're going to put a lot of people in there…." "So it's likely that we will get what's called an efficacy signal and we will know whether or not it actually works." #BeInformedVegas #8NN #coronavirus https://t.co/zhg8WEXn2U

— 8 News NOW (@8NewsNow) March 26, 2020

Dr. Fauci continued: "If it does, we hope to rush it to be able to have some impact on recycling in the next season, and like i said that can be a year to a year in a half, I'm not changing any of the dates that i mentioned." #8NN #BeInformedVegas #coronavirus https://t.co/pczpFXXqC5

— 8 News NOW (@8NewsNow) March 26, 2020

Dr, Fauci continued: "But even before you know something works, at risk you have to start producing it. Because once you k now it works, you can't say 'great, it works! Give me another 6 months to produce it.'" #8NN #BeInformedVegas #coronavirus https://t.co/lKnSCZDM1o

— 8 News NOW (@8NewsNow) March 26, 2020

Dr. Fauci continued: "So you're going to be hearing over the next month or more about different drugs that are going to go into these randomized controlled trials." #8NN #BeInformedVegas #coronavirus https://t.co/HyOkWj3Djr

— 8 News NOW (@8NewsNow) March 26, 2020

Dr. Fauci continued: "I feel confident about knowing what this virus is and what we can do with it, that we will have some form of therapy that give at least a partial if not a very good protection at preventing progression of disease." #8NN #BeInformedVegas #coronavirus https://t.co/uvITlUCnsI

— 8 News NOW (@8NewsNow) March 26, 2020

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Trump developed the Easter date as a goal to give people “hope.”

“I think, Easter, the president was giving people a lot of hope and basically telling us it won’t last forever, and we’ll see what happens over time,” she told reporters Thursday.

While the worst outbreaks are concentrated in certain parts of the country, most significantly in New York, experts warn that the highly infectious disease is certain to spread.

It was announced Thursday that the U.S. had already surpassed China in coronavirus cases, but President Trump didn’t seem worried when asked about it in the news conference.

Reporter: "The U.S. has surpassed China as the country with the highest number of virus cases, does this surprise you at all? Is it following a predictable trajectory?"

Trump: "No, I think it's a tribute to our testing. We're testing tremendous numbers of people every day."

— 8 News NOW (@8NewsNow) March 26, 2020

Trump said the rollout of additional testing will enable more nuanced recommendations that would allow some lesser-impacted parts of the country to regain a sense of normalcy sooner.

“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,” Trump said.

Trump, appearing to allude to the forthcoming guidelines, promised that there would be new favorable “statistics” and “facts” coming from the federal government in the next two days.

“Some good statistics are coming out which will make your lives easier,” Trump said.