Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, followed up by saying that the deadline was "really very flexible."
- President Donald Trump has been touting an Easter deadline to lift coronavirus-related restrictions around the country.
- During a White House press briefing on Tuesday night, Trump said that he hoped to see people back at work by the holiday, which falls on Sunday, April 12.
- "I just thought it was a beautiful time ... a beautiful timeline. It's a beautiful day," Trump said of why he suggested lifting restrictions by Easter.
- But experts, including members of Trump's own coronavirus task force, have suggested that a broad lockdown may still require several weeks.
- Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke soon after Trump at the briefing, stressing that the timeline was "really very flexible."
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President Donald Trump is pushing to lift coronavirus-related restrictions around the country by Easter, reasoning that the holiday "is a beautiful day."
Trump first touted the tentative deadline earlier on Tuesday during a Fox News town hall event. Easter falls on Sunday, April 12 this year.
"I'd love to have it open by Easter," he said. "I would love to have that. It's such an important day for other reasons, but I'll make it an important day for this too. I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter."
In another interview with Fox News later Tuesday afternoon, Trump said he came up with the "Easter is a very special day for me."
"Wouldn't it be great to have all the churches full?" Trump added. "You'll have packed churches all over our country. I think it'll be a beautiful time."
During a White House press briefing on Tuesday night, Trump doubled down on his Easter timeline, saying that he hoped to see people return to their routines within 19 days.
"We're looking at a timeline, we're discussing it," Trump said. "We had a very good meeting today."
Trump suggested that the deadline was not concrete, saying: "We're going to look at it, we'll only do it if it's good, and maybe we do sections of the country, large sections of the country."
He added that he had been "in touch" with Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, both members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, about the timeline.
"Who suggested Easter?" Kaitlan Collins, CNN's White House correspondent, asked Trump in response.
"I just thought it was a beautiful time ... a beautiful timeline. It's a beautiful day," he responded.
"So that wasn't based on any of the data?" Collins replied.
"It was based on a certain level of weeks from the time we started," Trump asserted. "And we were thinking in terms of sooner. I'd love to see it come even sooner. But I just think it'll be a beautiful timeline."
Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke soon after Trump, stressing that the timeline was "really very flexible."
"You can look at a date but you've got to be very flexible and on a literally day-by-day and week-by-week basis. You need to evaluate the feasibility of what you're trying to do," he said.
Fauci said that individual states may need to be assessed and hard-hit cities like New York City may require a longer lockdown period.
"Obviously, no one is going to want to tone down things when you see what's going on in a place like New York City. That's just good public health practice and common sense," he said.
"I think people might get the misinterpretation [that we're] just going to lift everything up. ... That's not going to happen. It's going to be looking at the data," he added.
Trump has put forward a 15-day plan to slow the spread of coronavirus, which has already infected over 53,000 people and killed over 680 as of Tuesday night. The 15-day plan calls on Americans to listen to state and local authorities, work from home when possible, avoid travel, and practice good hygiene.
But public health experts have warned that in order to slow the rate of infection in the US, these measures will need to be in place for several more weeks, at minimum.
Elaine Morrato, a visiting scientist at the FDA and dean of public health at Loyola University Chicago, told Business Insider's Aria Bendix that "longer periods of time" are needed to curb the outbreak.
"Fifteen days of aggressive social distancing is necessary, but will not be sufficient," she said. "The evidence from other nations is clear: Longer periods of time will be needed to reverse the tide."