The White House is expected to issue new guidelines for reopening parts of the country earlier this week as the 15-day window on its social distancing measures comes to an end. The administration has tested a system based on the level of risk in each county, although public health experts say that this would require a significant increase in testing capacity.
Trump, who was keen to get the country’s economy going again, earlier this week suggested that strict social distancing measures could be lifted in time for Easter in mid-April. However, he appears to be postponing this period, which experts have warned as premature and could lead to further deaths.
Anthony Fauci, the government’s leading infectious disease expert, suggested on Sunday morning that it would likely be “a matter of weeks” before the US begins to relax restrictions. Gottlieb, who appeared on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, also said he thought the White House was unlikely to ease this week.
“The White House spoke of being data-driven,” he said. “I hope they will be. It is too early to remove these measures.”
Gottlieb’s article also suggests that before the restrictions are relaxed, Americans should wear non-medical face masks in public to prevent asymptomatic people from unwittingly spreading the disease. The World Health Organization has recommended the use of face masks in the event of a severe pandemic flu, and their use is more common in other countries. However, it is unclear whether the country has enough non-medical face masks for the general public.
The US must get to a point where it can run 750,000 coronavirus tests a week before it can start recalling social distancing measures, the paper said. Gottlieb said capacity could be available by the end of the week.