President Donald Trump has said the US Government will not be extending its coronavirus social distancing guidelines once they expire this week.
Key points:The White House’s ’30 Days to Slow the Spread’ guidelines are due to expire on Friday (AEST)Donald Trump says those guidelines are now “fading out”Mr Trump said he sees the “new normal” in the US “being what it was three months ago”
To underscore his confidence, Mr Trump said on Thursday (AEST) he plans to resume interstate travel after spending more than a month mostly cooped up in the White House, starting with a trip to Arizona next week.
He also said he was hoping to hold mass campaign rallies in the coming months with thousands of supporters, even though medical experts have said there is little hope of having a vaccine by then.
The death toll in the US has now passed 60,000, surpassing the number of American lives lost in the Vietnam War.
But Mr Trump said he would not be extending the White House’s ’30 Days to Slow the Spread’ guidelines when they expire on Friday.
Protests have been held around the US calling for an end to coronavirus restrictions.(AP: Glen Stubbe/ Star Tribune)
“They’ll be fading out because now the governors are doing it,” Mr Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.
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Those guidelines — which were originally supposed to last 15 days and were then extended an additional 30 — encouraged Americans to work from home and avoid restaurants, group gatherings and discretionary travel and advised older Americans and those with serious underlying health conditions to isolate themselves.
Vice-President Mike Pence said the guidelines had been incorporated into the new guidance issued by the White House earlier this month that lays out how states can gradually ease restrictions and begin to reopen as the rate of new cases slows.
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Mr Trump also talked up the good news the day provided — hopeful results for a possible COVID-19 treatment.
The US economy shrank at a 4.8 per cent annual rate in first quarter of the year — a precursor to far grimmer reports that are expected this summer from the severe recession triggered by the pandemic.
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The White House has been trying to pivot to a new stage of the crisis, focused on efforts to reopen the nation’s economy state by state amid concerns that lifting restrictions too quickly and without sufficient testing and contact tracing will spur a resurgence.
“We’re heartened that the worst of the pain and suffering is going to be behind us,” Mr Trump said as he led a roundtable with executives from companies like Hilton and Toyota.
Mr Trump laid out a vision of a return to pre-coronavirus normalcy — “with or without” a vaccine — with packed restaurants and filled stadiums.
That vision flies in the face of sober assessments from doctors who say the country will need to embrace a “new normal” that includes extended social distancing and mask-wearing.
“I don’t want people to get used to this,” Mr Trump said.
“I see the new normal being what it was three months ago.”
This chart uses a logarithmic scale to highlight coronavirus growth rates. Read our explainer to understand what that means — and what we can learn from countries that have slowed the spread.
Mr Trump also said he was considering making a trip to Ohio, even as much of the country remains under effective lockdown with all but essential travel banned.
“We’re going to start to move around and hopefully in the not-too-distant future, we’ll have some massive rallies and people will be sitting next to each other,” he said, adding that having people spaced out in accordance with social distancing guidelines “wouldn’t look too good”.
He did not say exactly when he envisioned such rallies returning, but said the timing would depend, in part, on the states, since some have had far fewer cases than others.
The Federal Government and most states have urged residents to avoid mass gatherings and to remain at least 6 feet apart.
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