Coronavirus: Trump says new infections hitting plateau in some parts of US

Trump speaks at the daily coronavirus briefing in the White House Rose Garden.
Trump speaks at the daily coronavirus briefing in the White House Rose Garden.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - President Donald Trump said he will announce on Thursday (April 16) guidelines to relax stay-at-home rules, citing signs that the coronavirus is plateauing in parts of the country.

“The battle continues, but the data suggests that nationwide, we have passed the peak on new cases,” Trump said on Wednesday in a Rose Garden press conference. 

“These encouraging developments have put us in a very strong position to finalize guidelines for states on reopening the country, which we’ll be announcing – we’re going to be talking about that tomorrow.”

The coronavirus has infected nearly 620,000 people in the US, leaving more than 27,000 dead. 

Strict social-distancing practices have curbed the spread of the illness but have also crushed the economy, the central pillar of Trump’s re-election campaign.

The president has been anxious to end the guidelines and return the country to normal.

Earlier on Wednesday, Trump spoke with more than 200 leaders from nearly every corner of the US economy in four calls to seek input on reopening the country.

On Tuesday, Trump backed away from an earlier claim that he has “ultimate authority” to reopen the country after broad criticism from legal scholars and governors, including New York’s Andrew Cuomo, who warned of “a constitutional crisis like you haven’t seen in decades” if the president sought to lift social-distancing requirements over states’ objections.

The 10th Amendment to the Constitution reserves for states all powers that aren’t specifically granted to the federal government.

“They know when it’s time to open, and we don’t want to put pressure on anybody,” Trump said on Tuesday at a White House briefing.

“I’m not going to put any pressure on any governor to open.”

Trump said he will hold a teleconference with governors on Thursday.

In his Tuesday briefing he predicted they will be “very, very respectful of the presidency.”

When asked if he would withhold federal aid from states that don’t abide by his suggestions for a reopening strategy, Trump said he wasn’t making a threat and predicted state leaders “will listen” to his advice and requests.