U.S. President Trump laid out new guidelines Thursday for U.S. states to emerge from a coronavirus closure in a staggered, three-stage approach meant to revive the U.S. financial system even as the nation continues to fight the pandemic.
The suggestions call on states to show a “downward trajectory” of COVID-19 instances or positive tests for the illness over 14 days before continuing with the plan, which gradually loosens bans on companies that have been shuttered to blunt the spread of the virus.
The plan is a set of guidelines for states, not orders. In that sense, it represents a backdown by the President, who also insisted he had total authority to order states to re-open or remain closed. The duty for such decisions lies with state authorities.
With the responsibility of governors, the plan also provides Trump political cover if not everything goes well. The president, a Republican who’s running for re-election in November, has faced reprehension for downplaying the seriousness of the virus and calling it a hoax in the early weeks of the virus emergence.
The plan drew criticism from Ron Klain, who spearheaded the Obama administration’s response to Ebola and has advised former VP Joe Biden, the presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.
Top democrats, including Biden and house speaker Nancy Pelosi, said testing was crucial to opening the nation and criticized Trump’s presentation for lacking specifics.