President Trump suggested Wednesday that social distancing guidelines will be “fading out” as some states begin lifting stay-at-home orders and reopening businesses.
"I am very much in favor of what they're doing," Trump said of governors who are easing lockdowns. "They're getting it going."
During the meeting at the oval office, Trump administration officials said the focus is now on working with governors and figuring out the safest path toward fully reopening businesses.
"Every state in America has embraced those guidelines at a minimum, or even done more, and now our focus is working with states as governors, like Gov. John Bel Edwards, unveil plans to open up their states again," Vice President Mike Pence said as he and other task force members met with President Donald Trump and Edwards, a Democrat, in the Oval Office.
"The new guidance that we've issued is guidance for how they can do that safely and responsibly," Pence added.
Dr. Deborah Birx, a top physician advising the White House on the pandemic response, said at the meeting that the administration has been "very encouraged to see how the federal guidelines have helped inform, or at least provide a framework for governors and moving forward."
Phasing out existing guidelines
Federal guidelines on social distancing were introduced mid-March and were set to last 15 days. Trump later extended those guidelines for another 30 days. The existing guidelines are set to expire on Thursday, the last day of April, and Trump suggested at the meeting that he won’t be extending them further.
White House officials said current social distancing recommendations are being incorporated by governors into their plans for reopening.
"They'll be fading out, because now the governors are doing it," Trump said.
States such as Georgia, Alaska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas are allowing consumers back into places of businesses that have chosen to reopen. Health officials have cautioned that easing social distancing guidelines too early could lead to a spike in new cases.
Earlier this month, the administration released a three-phase plan that provides guidelines for when states might reopen. However, individual states must decide on their own when they should begin reopening.
So far, there have been more than 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University.