Trump, Health Experts Disagree On Lifting Coronavirus Restrictions; VP Pence Says National Lockdown Not Discussed

The Hill: Pence says White House has not discussed national lockdown to combat coronavirus
“Vice President Pence on Tuesday said the White House has not discussed instituting a national lockdown to try and slow the spread of the coronavirus. ‘At no point has the White House coronavirus task force discussed what some people call a nationwide lockdown,’ Pence, who is leading the federal government’s response to the outbreak, said during a Fox News virtual town hall…” (Samuels, 3/24).

The Hill: Fauci says Trump’s Easter goal for lifting coronavirus restrictions should be ‘flexible’
“Dr. Anthony Fauci on Tuesday said President Trump’s stated timeline for the lifting of restrictions on parts of the country by Easter Sunday should be ‘flexible.’ Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a prominent member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, added it is important for public health officials to gauge how widespread coronavirus is in parts of the country that haven’t reported significant numbers of cases…” (Samuels/Chalfant, 3/24).

NBC: White House coronavirus coordinator says ‘fine line’ to balance economy, public health
“The White House coronavirus response coordinator on Tuesday suggested that ‘there’s a fine line’ between balancing the economic needs of Americans and the fight against the pandemic. Dr. Deborah Birx in an interview on ‘TODAY’ on Tuesday responded to questions about President Donald Trump’s assertion at a press conference Monday that the shutdown of many businesses around the country would last weeks, not months. ‘America will again and soon be open for business,’ he said…” (Kesslen, 3/24).

POLITICO: Health officials want Trump to ‘double down, not lighten up’ restrictions
“…The prospect of resuming typical business so soon has horrified these public health leaders, who see the debate as premature amid a crisis that the administration is just beginning to wrangle, according to eight people with knowledge of the administration’s discussions about its coronavirus guidelines. … It’s a battle that will intensify in the coming days as the country approaches the end of a 15-day period of extreme social distancing, which the White House launched on March 15…” (Cancryn/Cook, 3/23).

Washington Post: Trump versus the scientists: The president’s tug-of-war with experts over coronavirus policy
“…This portrait of mounting tensions between the president and the scientific community is the result of interviews with 15 senior administration officials, aides, outside advisers and others briefed on internal deliberations, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to share candid assessments. Trump has set up something of a gladiatorial process for managing the coronavirus, in which each adviser and expert argues forcefully for their specific perspective — be it public health or economic growth — creating a dynamic that has left Birx, Fauci, and others often offering Trump recommendations he is not eager to hear…” (Parker et al., 3/24).

Additional coverage of Trump’s, health experts’ views on coronavirus mitigation strategies is available from NBC, Vox, and Washington Post (2) (3) (4).

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