“What we’re seeing right now are some favorable signs,” said Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and is a member of the White House task force battling the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.
Asked by CNN whether he feels comfortable with the date of May 1 to re-open the economy, Fauci said, “The virus kind of decides whether or not it’s going to be appropriate to open.”
“We would want to see a clear indication that you were very, very clearly and strongly going in the right direction. Because the one thing you don’t want to do is you don’t want to get out there prematurely and you wind up back in the same situation,” he cautioned.
The May 1 date was fielded recently as a potential time when parts of the substantially shuttered U.S. economy could be re-opened for business.
Asked on CNBC whether President Donald Trump could start to reopen businesses in May, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, “I do.”
“As soon as the president feels comfortable with the medical issues, we are making everything necessary that American companies and American workers can be open for business and that they have the liquidity they need to operate the business in the interim,” Mnuchin told CNBC on Thursday.
As the CCP virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, has aggressively spread across the nation, with Johns Hopkins figures at the time of reporting noting 467,184 infections and 16,736 deaths, Trump has sought to balance the needs of Americans to make a living with restrictions intended to save lives.
The president said at a White House briefing Thursday that the economic shutdowns have exacted “a tremendous toll, mentally, on a lot of people.”
“I think we’re going to open up strong. I think we’re going to open up very successfully, and, I’d like to say, even more successfully than before,” Trump said, adding that, “We’re going to be opening up … very, very, very, very soon, I hope.”
Fauci told CNN that members of the CCO virus task force look at data every day for indications that they “can go forward in a gradual way to essentially reopening the country.”
He said task force members report back to Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, who will ultimately decide when to reopen the country.
“That decision will be made at that level,” Fauci said.
In the meantime, Fauci encouraged Americans to observe social distancing guidelines around Easter, a time when families typically come together.
“Now is no time to back off,” Fauci said.
Trump, at Thursday’s briefing, praised Americans for their solidarity in the face of the outbreak.
“Although this medical war has separated our citizens for a period of time, it’s also united our entire nation, I think I can say, like almost never before,” Trump said. “Americans are moving forward with common purpose and shared resolve, determined to vanquish the virus and lift our nation to even greater heights.”
“We are supremely confident in the magnificent future that awaits the American people,” the president said.
Reuters contributed to this report.