The US has the most confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths of any country.
The United States’ top disease expert has signalled a “rolling re-entry” for parts of the country’s economy as early as next month if pandemic restrictions are eased.
But Dr Anthony Fauci said new cases of COVID-19 were inevitable after any relaxing of measures and these would need to be managed by health authorities.
Dr Fauci said that rather than flipping a switch to reopen the entire country, a gradual process will be needed based on the status of the pandemic in various parts of the US and the availability of rapid, widespread testing.
Once the number of people who are seriously ill sharply declines, officials can begin to “think about a gradual re-entry of some sort of normality, some rolling re-entry,” Dr Fauci said.
In some places that might occur as soon as May, he added.
The health expert said: “We are hoping that, at the end of the month, we could look around and say: ‘OK, is there any element here that we can safely and cautiously start pulling back on?’ If so, do it. If not, then just continue to hunker down.”
Dr Fauci said at whatever time restrictions ease, “we know that there will be people who will be getting infected. I mean, that is just reality”.
Governors, get your states testing programs & apparatus perfected. Be ready, big things are happening. No excuses! The Federal Government is there to help. We are testing more than any country in the World. Also, gear up with Face Masks!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 12, 2020
Social distancing guidelines put in place by President Donald Trump are set to expire on April 30.
Mr Trump is eager to restart the economy, which has stalled because most Americans are under orders to stay at home to help slow the virus’ spread.
But he has insisted he would not move to reopen the country until it is safe.
At the same time, Mr Trump will announce the launch of what he dubbed the Opening our Country taskforce on Tuesday to work towards that goal.
“I want to get it open as soon as possible,” Mr Trump said at a Good Friday briefing while adding: “The facts are going to determine what I do.”
Health experts have warned against easing restrictions too quickly.
The US has the most confirmed cases and deaths of any nation, with more than 555,000 infected and more than 22,000 dead, according to Johns Hopkins University.
In hard-hit New York, the number of deaths topped 700 for six straight days on Saturday, but the increase in people requiring treatment in hospital has slowed.
On Sunday, Dr Fauci also told CNN that he “can’t guarantee” that it will be safe for Americans to vote in person in the presidential election on November 3.