By LIBBY CATHEY, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — With the White House coronavirus social distancing guidelines set to expire Thursday, President Donald Trump says he’s eager to return to hosting mega rallies and attending sporting events, and more governors are looking to lift restrictions before the weekend.
“We’re gonna start to move around, and hopefully in the not too distant future, we’ll have some massive rallies and people will be sitting next to each other,” Trump said Wednesday at an event on “Opening Up America Again.”
The president on Thursday continued a pattern of not having an official coronavirus task force briefing but using other scheduled appearances to take questions and tout his administration’s response to the pandemic.
Trump’s continued push for a reopening comes as the country’s economy sees its largest decline since the Great Recession and unemployment claims breaking records — and as a November presidential election approaches.
We can’t let the Fake News, and their partner, the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, get away with stealing the Election. They tried that in 2016. How did that work out?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 30, 2020
It also comes as the government’s top expert on infectious disease, Dr. Anthony Fauci, shared what he called “quite good news” on Wednesday. In clinical trials for COVID-19 treatments, Fauci said recovery time and mortality rates have tended “better” with the drug remdesivir, adding that’s it’s “opening the door to the fact that we now have the capability of treating.”
Here are the latest developments in the government response:
Director of National Intelligence confirms U.S. looking at origins of theory coronavirus began in a Wuhan lab
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a rare statement Thursday morning confirming media reports that it continues to look at whether the novel coronavirus outbreak began at a Chinese government lab in Wuhan.
“The IC will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan,” it read.
Intelligence Community Statement on Origins of COVID-19 pic.twitter.com/MIPr6LVzU4
— Office of the DNI (@ODNIgov) April 30, 2020
The statement also says the intelligence community agrees with the “wide scientific consensus” that COVID-19 wasn’t man-made or genetically modified.
Two administration officials confirmed to ABC News Wednesday that the White House ordered intelligence agencies to review communications intercepts and other data to see whether China and/or the World Health Organization concealed information early on about the emerging coronavirus. It was first reported by NBC.
The idea that the virus originated in a Wuhan lab is unproven though pushed by some Trump administration officials.
Trump to travel to Arizona on Tuesday to visit a Honeywell facility making N-95 masks
President Trump said Wednesday he was planning to visit Arizona next week but didn’t specify what exactly he was going to do.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere said Thursday morning that Trump planned to visit a Honeywell facility in Phoenix. The company announced last month the facility would be making N-95 masks, creating 500 jobs.
It will be an official visit with no campaign stops or events scheduled to be included on the trip, Deere said.
Local media in Phoenix first reported these details on Wednesday.
Fauci warns states against ‘tempting’ a coronavirus rebound, cautions that remdesivir is ‘not the total answer’
As states begin to roll back restrictions and reopen businesses, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Thursday that new cases of the coronavirus are a certainty and advised states follow the guidelines for phased reopening laid out by the federal government.
“We will get blips … there’s no doubt,” Fauci told NBC.” “When you pull back there will be cases, and what we need to do is make sure (states) have in place the capability of identifying, isolating and contact tracing individuals.”
“The guidelines are very, very explicit, and very clear,” Fauci said. “There’s a lot of leeway because we give the governors the opportunity to be very flexible, but you have to have the core principles of the guidelines. You can’t just leap over things and get into a situation where you’re really tempting a rebound. That’s the thing I get concerned about. I hope they don’t do that.”
He also expanded on the initial results of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases-sponsored trial of remdesivir, where he is the director, after announcing on Wednesday its results showed “good news”
“It’s the first step in what we project will be better and better drugs coming along, either alone or in combination, drugs of this type, and drugs addressing other targets of the virus,” Fauci said. “So it’s good news, but I was very serious when I said this is not the total answer, by any means. But it’s a very important first step.”
He noted that while the results were “clearly positive from a statistically significant standpoint, they were modest” — showing a recovery time reduced by 31% — or from 15 days to 11 days.
He also said he spoke with Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn about granting approval for emergency usage of the drug, and that while the FDA had yet to make a final decision, Fauci thought the approval would come “reasonably soon.”
Department of Labor: 3.8 million jobless claims filed last week
A record-shattering 30 million people have filed for unemployment in the last six weeks, wiping out a decade of employment gains and jobless claims reaching a number worse than the Great Recession, the key reason driving President Trump’s “Opening Up America Again” plan.
Last week alone, 3.8 million people filed for unemployment insurance, according to a Department of Labor report released Thursday morning.
The unprecedented influx in jobless claims has created a number of issues for those in dire need of benefits as businesses across the country are forced to close their doors and Americans report ongoing struggles in the unemployment application process.
Prior to the pandemic, the unemployment rate in the U.S. was at a historic low of 3.6%.
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