The US’ top disease adviser has poured cold water on president Donald Trump’s hopes of restarting the country’s economy on 1 May, describing the target date as “overly optimistic”.
Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said that health officials would have to be able to test quickly for the disease, isolate new cases and trace new infections before the social distancing measures could be listed.
Fauci’s comments come after the president lashed out at several Democratic state governors who had rejected his claims that he had “total authority” to end restrictions across the country.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo was one of several state authorities to push back against the claims, saying:
“If he ordered me to reopen in a way that would endanger the public health of the people of my state, I wouldn’t do it”.
Along with his counterparts in six other northeastern states, Cuomo said there would be a regional plan for the reopening of the region, which is the worst hit part of the US.
On the Pacific coast, the governors of California, Oregon and Washington state said they also would take a regional approach.
The president is desperate to put an end to the coronavirus restrictions in the hope that the US economy can begin to recover in time to help his re-election prospects.
The dispute came as the number of deaths in the US hit 25,000, meaning that the death toll has doubled in one week.
Despite the grim figures, there were some signs that the peak had been reached in virus epicentre New York, where the number of people admitted to hospital fell for the first time.
Trump is also set to host Thursday’s G7 meeting via video link in order to discuss co-ordinated global responses to the pandemic.