Trump Aides Say May 1 Target Unlikely as Pence Charts Reopening

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U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Friday that most parts of the country won’t be able to relax their social distancing efforts by May 1, adding to a more cautious posture President Donald Trump and his top aides have recently adopted toward the coronavirus outbreak.

Adams said on Fox News that “some places” in the country with strong surveillance systems for the virus “will be able to think about opening on May 1st.”

“Most of the country will not, to be honest with you,” he said.

Trump has been anxious to relax economy-crushing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance that Americans isolate themselves from one another, initially setting a goal to “reopen” the country by Easter, April 12. But as the U.S. outbreak grew last month to the largest in the world, he agreed to extend the guidance until April 30.

But this week, Trump and his aides have sought to avoid committing to any specific date. Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday outlined a series of mileposts the country must meet before social-distancing practices can be relaxed, including widespread testing for the virus and therapeutic medicines to treat it, both of which may be months away.

“I can’t tell you in terms of the date,” Trump said Wednesday, when asked in a news conference if May 1 was a realistic goal. “You know, we don’t want to — we don’t want to go down, and then we can start going up, if we’re not careful. So, we have to be careful.”

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, also preached caution when asked about a potential May 1 opening. The virus will determine “whether or nor it’s going to be appropriate to open or not,” Fauci said Friday in an interview with CNN.

“We would want to see, I would want to see a clear indication that you are very, very clearly and strongly going in the right direction, because the one thing you don’t want to do is you don’t want to get out there, prematurely, and then wind up and you’re back in the same situation,” Fauci said.

While U.S. officials began the week optimistic that the outbreak was beginning to level off, New York City on Thursday reported 824 deaths from the virus in 24 hours, the most yet. There have been more than 466,000 cases across the nation and more than 16,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

“The reassuring news, again, is that some places have leveled off and are on the downslope, and we hope that within a few weeks once we get past the 30 days, some places around the country can start thinking about reopening,” Adams said.

— With assistance by Josh Wingrove

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