President Donald Trump laid out new guidelines on Thursday for U.S. states to emerge from a coronavirus shutdown in a staggered, three-stage approach meant to revive the U.S. economy even as the country continues to fight the pandemic.
The recommendations call on states to show a “downward trajectory” of COVID-19 cases or positive tests for the disease over 14 days before proceeding with the plan, which gradually loosens restrictions on businesses that have been shuttered to blunt the spread of the virus.
“We are not opening all at once, but one careful step at a time,” Trump told reporters at the White House. The president had said earlier this month he wanted to reopen the economy with a “big bang.”
The plan is a set of recommendations for state governors, not orders. In that sense, it represents a backdown by Trump, who on Monday insisted he had total authority to direct states to re-open or remain closed. The responsibility for such decisions lies with state, not federal, authorities.