President Donald Trump said Thursday that his administration is working on a county-level approach to the coronavirus that will identify COVID-19 hotspots across the nation.
Doing so will allow social distancing measures to be relaxed or tightened based on the number of confirmed cases in each county, Trump said in a letter sent Thursday to the nation’s governors.
“As we enhance protections against the virus, Americans across the country are hoping the day will soon arrive when they can resume their normal economic, social, and religious lives,” Trump wrote. “In furtherance of this shared goal, 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.”
The president said during a press conference this week that he would like to see America’s economy reopen by Easter, but some governors were critical of Trump’s aggressive timeline.
“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,” Trump continued. “This will incorporate robust surveillance testing, which allows us to monitor the spread of the virus throughout the country. Under these data-driven criteria, we will suggest guidelines categorizing counties as high-risk, medium-risk, or low-risk.”
The president reiterated Thursday that he believes there are “large sections of our country” that “probably can go back much sooner than other sections.”
As of Thursday afternoon, there were 21 states, 47 counties, and 14 cities with shelter-in-place orders in effect, meaning at least 200 million Americans are stuck at home. A record 3.28 million people filed unemployment claims last week, nearly five times higher than the 1982 record of 695,000 claims in a single week.
The United States now has 68,440 confirmed COVID-19 cases and has lost 994 lives to the disease, according to the CDC.
“Through it all, I am deeply inspired by the unflinching dedication of Americans in every state who are rallying together to defeat the virus,” Trump concluded his letter. “I look forward to witnessing that same boundless spirit drive our recovery and quickly return us to the path of exceptional health, safety, and prosperity for all of our citizens.”
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