Curfews in effect for Puget Sound cities; Inslee activates National Guard

Trump itching to scale back social distancing after 15 day-period, aides say

Data pix.

Another week of self-isolating -- or, for many Americans, mandatory lockdowns -- are raising more questions for President Donald Trump on how long the coronavirus mitigation measures will last and whether they are worth the economic pain.


Aides say Trump is itching for the guidelines to be eased at the end of the 15-day period, but realistically there are few health experts who think that's enough time to know whether the measures he announced last week will suffice.

Trump and some of his top officials are growing more anxious with social distancing guidelines put in place to combat the coronavirus, sources close to the White House effort said. One senior official said the President is losing patience with the period of national self-isolation that has frozen the US economy.

The dynamic has led to a robust internal debate over how best to balance the actual health of the country -- with potentially hundreds of thousands of lives at stake -- with its economic health.

Some of Trump's allies have continued to publicly suggest the measures announced by the White House last week were too stringent and have caused unnecessary economic pain. Many of his conservative allies circulated a Wall Street Journal editorial from last week, which questioned whether the shutdown was worth the trade off of a shuttered economy.

That has helped fuel growing opposition among some of Trump's advisers to an extended lockdown.

Discussions are already underway with advisers over what to do at the end of the 15 days. Trump very much wants to get people back to work, but his medical advisers continue to tell him the country has a way to go before emerging from the worst of the outbreak, a source familiar with the matter said.

Not all of Trump's allies appear to be in the same camp. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, wrote Monday on Twitter that "we should always err on the side of doing more - not less - when it comes to containment.

"President Trump's best decision was stopping travel from China early on," Graham wrote. "I hope we will not undercut that decision by suggesting we back off aggressive containment policies within the United States."

Trump has been weighing the situation with advisers both inside and outside the White House, the source said.

Officials aren't sure where Trump will ultimately land after 15 days -- and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease specialist who has pushed for tough mitigation steps -- will continue to act as a critical voice behind the scenes.

Trump was initially resistant to Fauci's recommendations that he take steps to encourage social distancing during the first go-around, people familiar with the deliberations said. The President remains unconvinced it was the right decision. And there are people around him who aren't exactly reinforcing Fauci's message, including some of his economic advisers.

Trump has been irked by the images of spring breakers in Florida ignoring the self-isolating guidance, a source close to the White House who is involved in the coronavirus response said.

"What's the point of social distancing if 20% ignore the order," Trump has said to aides, according to the source.

White House officials are still discussing ways to encourage younger Americans to take the social distancing campaign more seriously, the source said.

Already, some conservatives have suggested the US went too far in limiting people's movements to protect health at the expense of businesses, including Fox News hosts Laura Ingraham and Steve Hilton.

"You know that famous phrase, 'the cure is worse than the disease'?" Hilton asked during his monologue on Sunday night. "That is exactly the territory we are hurtling towards."

An open question is whether Trump is willing to cast aside Fauci's recommendations once the economic picture becomes clearer. Meanwhile, Fauci has been vocal in his disagreements with Trump -- including in interviews openly discussing his role in correcting the President's false or misleading statements.

On Monday, Trump began sending retweets that seem to be encouraging an end to strong social distancing measures after the current 15-day period, despite concern from public health officials that it won't be long enough to blunt the worst of the coronavirus.

"15 days," one user tweeted. "Then we isolate the high risk groups and the rest of us get back to work before it's all over for everyone!! #Landslide2020"

"Flatten the curve NOT the Economy," reads a follow up tweet.

"After 15 days are over the world can begin to heal!," another user tweeted.

On Monday he retweeted one user, responding to his original tweet, who wrote, "Correct. Fifteen days, then we keep the high risk groups protected as necessary and the rest of us go back to work."

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