Donald Trump says he is eyeing May 1 as the target day to reopen the U.S. economy. But one of the country's top health officials isn't convinced that's realistic.
Dr. Anthony Fauci—a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force—told the the Associated Press on Tuesday that the President's goal was "a bit overly optimistic," as the country is not yet in a position to ease social distancing restrictions that have curbed the spread of the deadly disease. Fauci explained that to safely lift emergency measures the U.S. must first increase its testing capacity and improve its ability to track new cases.
"We have to have something in place that is efficient and that we can rely on, and we’re not there yet," Fauci said, adding that any reopening would have to be done on a "rolling" basis, with different parts of the country reopening at different times.
Fauci, who is also the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he was concerned that a hasty reopening could lead to another resurgence of COVID-19 cases, primarily because states are unable to perform rapid testing, isolate new confirmed cases, and adequately track everyone who was potentially exposed to the virus.
"I’ll guarantee you, once you start pulling back there will be infections," he said. "It’s how you deal with the infections that’s going count ... [The key is] getting people out of circulation if they get infected, because once you start getting clusters, then you’re really in trouble."
Coronavirus-related shutdowns have caused a large portion of the U.S. economy to come to a screeching halt. Non-essential businesses have been forced to close their doors due to social-distancing restrictions. This, of course, has resulted in widespread layoffs and furloughs, leaving a growing number of Americans without an income.
Trump is clearly eager to restart the U.S. economy, insisting he would utilize "a lot of facts and a lot of instinct" when he came to his decision about reopening certain areas of the country.
"I think it's going to be the toughest decision I ever made and hopefully the most difficult I will ever have to make. I hope I'm going to make the right decision," Trump told Fox News’ Jeaning Pirro over the weekend. "I will be basing it on a lot of very smart people, a lot of professionals, doctors and business leaders. There are a lot of things that go into a decision like that. And it's going to be based on a lot of facts and instincts."