Trump promises new guidelines for states to reopen
U.S. President Donald Trump said he would announce "new guidelines" for reopening the economy at a news conference on Thursday, after he and Vice-President Mike Pence discuss it with state governors.
Trump also said during his Wednesday news conference that data suggested the country had "passed the peak" on new coronavirus infections.
"The battle continues but the data suggests that the nation has passed the peak on new cases," Trump said.
"While we must remain vigilant, it is clear that our aggressive strategy is working and very strongly working, I might add."
He called the latest data "encouraging," saying the numbers have "put us in a very strong position to finalize guidelines for states on reopening the country."
The U.S. coronavirus death toll — the highest in the world — surged past 30,000 on Wednesday after doubling in a week.
The coronavirus crisis has hammered the U.S. economy, overshadowing Trump's efforts to win re-election in November.
Some states to be opened sooner
The Republican president has been pushing to reopen U.S. businesses and end orders that Americans stay home to fight the spread of the disease.
Governors in harder-hit states — New York, California, Louisiana, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Michigan — said more widespread testing is needed before lifting the restrictions, which have thrown millions out of work by closing restaurants, businesses and schools.
"We'll be opening some states much sooner than others," Trump said.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force co-ordinator, added that data from across the country showed the nation "improving," but that Americans had to recommit to social distancing to keep up the positive momentum.
She said nine states have fewer than 1,000 cases and just a few dozen new cases per day. She said those would likely be the first to see a lifting in social distancing restrictions at the direction of their governors under the guidelines set to be released Thursday.
Birx said the White House was particularly concerned about Rhode Island, noting it is now seeing a surge in cases from the Boston metro area after seeing a spike several weeks ago in cases from New York.
Trump claimed on Monday he had the authority to overrule state governors and order businesses across the country to reopen.
Trump consulted dozens of high-profile CEOs, union officials and other executives via conference calls Wednesday.
He received a mixed message from the industry leaders. They, too, said they want to get the economy going but had worries about how to safely do so.
In a tweet midway through Trump's round of conference calls with the executives, the president said the participants were "all-in on getting America back to work, and soon."