Trump's Easter Deadline to Ease Coronavirus Restrictions Is an 'Aspirational Projection' Says Dr. Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci from the White House's coronavirus task force has batted away the suggestion by President Donald Trump that a relaxation of social distancing guidelines and a reopening of the economy could happen by Easter.

Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was asked on CNN what he thought of Trump's target date that the country could reopen for business and restrictions could be eased by April 12.

"I think what the president was trying to do—he was making an aspirational projection to give people some hope," Fauci replied. "He is listening to us when we say we really got to re-evaluate it in real time and any decision we make has to be based on the data.

"When you have a situation when the cases today compared to tomorrow has increased dramatically... that's no time to pull back, that's when you got to hunker down, nail down, mitigate, mitigate, mitigate, get the people taken care of. "That's what you've go to concentrate on, you have to go with the data."

"We do know a lot more than we did a couple of weeks ago," says Dr. Anthony Fauci, about the coronavirus. "But the one thing that's still a little bit of a black that, what is the relative percentage of really asymptomatic infection?" #CNNTownHall

— CNN (@CNN) March 27, 2020

The U.S. has now overtaken China with the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases at over 85,000. There have been almost 1,300 deaths and over 750 recoveries, according to Johns Hopkins University. New York City and Washington state have seen the highest number of deaths.

CNN host Anderson Cooper asked Fauci if he believed that the low number of cases in certain parts of the U.S. was because the virus was not prevalent there or simply due to a lack of testing.

"It's probably a combination of both but I think it is more because they have not yet had that kind of escalation that we have seen in cities like New York," Fauci replied.

Fauci said that in 19 out of 50 states where there are fewer than 200 cases each, the priority was to "be very aggressive" in identification, isolation and contact tracing.

"When people are infected, get them out of society, put them away where they are isolated and then trace the others. That's all containment.

"So what we are talking about is trying to get to the point where we don't allow these issues to come up to the point of needing mitigation," he added.

He also said it was important to find out how many cases of infection there were among those who had no symptoms, because that is what shapes projections of how the virus is going to spread.

"The one thing that's still a little bit of a black box…is that, what is the relative percentage of really asymptomatic infection? Because that influences everything."

Newsweek has contacted the White House for comment.

The graph below by Statista shows the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and recoveries as of March 26.

Number of COVID-19 cases compared to recoveries.
Number of COVID-19 cases compared to recoveries.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
President Donald Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the White House on March 24, 2020. Fauci has dismissed Trump's aspiration to reopen the country by Easter. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.