Trump says he's weighing new coronavirus protocols to let local economies 'cautiously resume'
President Donald Trump signaled impatience Monday with federal social distancing guidelines intended to stem the spread of coronavirus and said his administration is moving to ease some of those restrictions to restart the economy.
After positioning himself last week as a "wartime" president in an epic struggle against an "invisible enemy," Trump's messaging about his administration's response to COVID-19 shifted dramatically Monday as he appeared increasingly open to standing down some of the stricter guidance he touted just days earlier as critical to containing the virus.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s highly respected infectious disease expert, did not attend Monday’s briefing on coronavirus at the White House – an absence that reporters noticed immediately.
It was particularly noteworthy because Fauci gave a remarkably candid interview to Science magazine, posted Sunday evening, in which he admitted being at odds with Trump over several issues.
Trump said he had just been with Fauci and did not express any irritation with the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“He’s a good man. I like Dr. Fauci,” Trump said. “He’s not here because we weren’t discussing” issues that he is best at addressing, the president said.
Asked if Fauci agrees with him on the need to reopen the economy soon, Trump said "he doesn't not agree."
Aides say Trump is itching for the guidelines to be eased when the 15-day period ends a week from Monday, but realistically there are few health experts who think that's enough time to know whether the measures he announced last week - including recommending closing schools , limiting gatherings and keeping at least 6 feet of distance between individuals - will suffice.
Speaking during an evening briefing at the White House, Trump signaled he hopes America can resume business sooner rather than later.
"Our country wasn't built to be shut down. This is not a country that was built for this. It was not built to be shut down," he said, adding that after the 15-day "slow the spread" period ends the administration would evaluate how to move forward.
"We will be using data to recommend new protocols to allow local economies to cautiously summarize their activity at the appropriate time," Trump said.
Trump and some of his top officials are growing more anxious with social distancing guidelines put in place to combat the coronavirus, sources close to the White House effort said. One senior official said the President is losing patience with the period of national self-isolation that has frozen the US economy.
Meanwhile, the public health experts advising the President and his team on the coronavirus pandemic are continuing to argue that the broad guidelines urging people to work from home, avoid restaurants and large gatherings should remain in place.
US President Donald Trump - under fire for labelling Covid-19 the "Chinese virus" - has said Asian Americans should not be blamed for the outbreak.
He said it is "very important that we totally protect" Asian Americans, whom he praised as "amazing people".
Mr Trump spoke out amid rising reports of verbal and physical attacks on the community amid the pandemic.
Coronavirus is still spreading in the US, which currently has over 42,000 confirmed cases and 533 deaths.
At a White House coronavirus task force news conference on Monday, Mr Trump said: "It is very important that we totally protect our Asian American community in the United States and all around the world.