Governors told they should rank counties by virus risk

Justin Sink and Angelica LaVito, Bloomberg News on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump told U.S. governors in a letter that he wants the government to rank counties according to their risk of a coronavirus outbreak, as he seeks to return Americans to work by his aspirational Easter deadline.

"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," Trump said in the letter, which followed a video conference with governors from the White House on Thursday.

"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," he wrote.

Parts of the U.S. may be able to relent on social distancing practices that have crippled the economy as the country fights the coronavirus outbreak, Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview.

"There are places in the country now where you want to look at carefully and say you know maybe you want to pull back a little bit on the restrictions so long as you don't just say let it rip and say I don't care what happens," Fauci said in an interview Thursday conducted by NBA star Stephen Curry on Instagram. "So you treat New York City a little different than you treat Nebraska."

Trump has said he would like to see social distancing relaxed and the economy re-opened by the Easter holiday, April 12. But many governors and public health authorities have warned that is too ambitious, and that ending social distancing early risks worsening the outbreak and causing more American deaths.


Fauci said in an interview with National Public Radio earlier on Thursday that he's encouraged Trump to be flexible about his Easter goal. And White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said on Fox News Thursday that Trump is using Easter "as an example."

"He's listening to his health professionals," she said.

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