The Trump administration is not planning to extend federal coronavirus social distancing guidelines that expire Thursday, instead focusing on working with states to reopen the country.
Individual state governors are deciding when and at what pace to relax restrictions on non-essential businesses and group gatherings and calls for people to stay home.
Trump said Wednesday that the federal guidelines first issued in mid-March will be “fading out,” while his administration consults with governors on their plans.
Health officials have cautioned about moving too quickly toward Trump’s desired “return to normal,” saying that doing so risks new waves of infections.
Many states are either already starting to allow more businesses to operate with social distancing guidelines such as extra space between restaurant tables, while others have announced plans to begin easing lockdown orders in the coming weeks.
California Governor Gavin Newsom is set to order his state’s beaches and parks to close on Friday after tens of thousands of people defied stay-at-home orders last weekend.
Newsom has said he will only consider relaxing statewide restrictions when a number of milestones are met, such as declining case numbers for two weeks and the widespread availability of testing so officials can quickly isolate the infected and test those who have been in close contact.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday that the city is expanding its testing sites to welcome anyone who wants a test.
"If you think you might have COVID-19, want the reassurance that you don't, you've been around people that you have seen with symptoms, get a test. We can do it,” Garcetti said.
Trouble in Syria
Discussions about relaxing lockdown orders are taking place in many other countries, including Japan, where Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday his government is consulting experts about whether to extend a state of emergency that is set to expire next week.
Japan has about 14,000 confirmed cases, and Abe said the situation remains “severe.”
Finland is the latest European country to announce plans to reopen schools. Beginning May 14, students will return with new rules that include fewer students in a classroom and avoiding groups in communal areas.
While parts of the world focus on emerging from the worst of their coronavirus outbreaks, there remains great concern about parts of the world that are just beginning to see worse effects, especially those already hampered by conflict.
U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock told the Security Council there are 44 confirmed cases and four deaths in Syria, a country he said cannot be expected “to cope with a crisis that is challenging even the wealthiest nations.”
In Yemen, health officials reported the country’s first two coronavirus deaths as well as a cluster of new cases in the southern port city of Aden that has been a focal point in a five-year civil war.
The number of COVID-19 cases worldwide stood at 3.2 million Thursday with more than 227,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University statistics.