On Tuesday, Donald Trump said that he wants to have the U.S. "back to work" by Easter, a timeline his medical advisors instantly appeared to push back on. At the coronavirus task force briefing, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci shared his opinion on the president's hope, calling it "really very flexible."
"We just had a conversation with the president in the Oval Office, talking about, you could look at a date, but you've got to be very flexible on a literally day by day, week by week basis," he said. "You need to evaluate the feasibility of what you're trying to do." He added, "When you look at the country, obviously no one is going to want to tone down things when you see what's going on in a place like New York City, that's just good public health practice and common sense."
"The country is a big country, and there are areas of the country... that we really need to know more about what the penetrance is there," Fauci continued. "If we do the kind of testing we're doing... and you find after a period of time that there are areas that are very different from other areas of the country, you may not want to essentially treat it as just one force for the entire country, but look at flexibility in different areas."
Fauci added that people may get a "misinterpretation" that "you're just going to lift everything up." "That's not going to happen," he said. "It's going to be looking at the data. And what we don't have right now that we really do need is we need to know what's going on in those areas of the country where there isn't an obvious outbreak."
"I'd love to have it open by Easter," Trump told reporters. "I would love to have that. It's such an important day for other reasons, but I'll make it an important day for this too. I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter."
Easter falls on April 12 this year and Trump did not offer any reason for the date. In an interview on Fox News later that day, he said that Easter "is a very special day for me," and that it would be "great to have all of the churches full."
"So, I think Easter Sunday, and you will have packed churches all over our country," he later added. "I think it would be a beautiful time and it's just about the timeline that I think is right."
Medical experts are continuing to urge U.S. citizens to practice social distancing, wash your hands and stay home if you feel sick.
Photo Credit: Getty / Mandel Ngan