Trump Didn't Consult Every Coronavirus Task Force Member Before Announcing He May Relax Social Distancing, Says Acosta

CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta said Thursday that some members of the coronavirus task force had not seen a letter President Donald Trump drafted to state governors about potentially relaxing the social distancing rules put forth by his administration.

In the letter, plans for ranking counties according to their risk profile—high, medium or low—of spreading coronavirus were mentioned.

"President Trump has told the nation's governors in a letter that the administration is working on new guidelines that would help state and local leaders come up with new social distancing measures in the weeks ahead," Acosta reported. "We are learning that not all coronavirus task force members had seen Mr. Trump's letter to the governors before the letter was released."

Newsweek reached out to the office of Dr. Anthony Fauci of the White House coronavirus task force for comment.

"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," Trump's letter read.

"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," the letter said. "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."

Some Trump critics believe that the potential relaxing of current coronavirus protocols, such as social distancing, may be key to his stated desire to reopen U.S. businesses, many of which have been closed by state-mandated stay-at-home orders.

On Thursday, data released by the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the coronavirus pandemic had caused 3.3 million Americans to file for unemployment insurance within the span of one week. While the numbers represented the highest number of unemployment claims since the beginning of October 1982, Trump said the economy would rebound after the threat of the virus in the U.S. had ended.

"I know those numbers but I think you'll see a very fast turnaround once we have a victory over the hidden enemy, as I say, it's a hidden enemy," Trump said. "We'll see what happens, but they're fully expected numbers, at least."

Trump has pinpointed the April celebration of Easter Sunday as the potential target date for his reopening of the country. On Tuesday, Trump told Fox News that he would "love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter."

In a Thursday interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News, Trump said he may reopen the country in sections.

"There's a possibility I'll do it in quadrants, in pieces," Trump said. "You'll take the Farm Belt. You'll take certain states that aren't badly impacted where they have almost none or just a little bit."

jim acosta
CNN reporter Jim Acosta said Thursday that not all members of the White House coronavirus task force had been told of President Donald Trumps plans to relax social distancing guidelines. Alex Wong/Getty

"They all have a little bit," Trump added, "but many of them have just a little bit and they have it under control."

Recent data indicates 88,594 confirmed positive cases in the U.S. with 1,300 deaths attributable to the virus. 1,868 individuals have been classified as recovered.