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BY JEFFERY MARTIN

President Donald Trump said his administration may extend the guidelines for social distancing past spring and into early summer at Thursday’s coronavirus task force meeting from the White House. In March, Trump said the guidelines would be in place until April 30.

In recent days, governors across the U.S. have started planning for the reopening of businesses in their states through phased approaches that feature social distancing protocols as a criterion for getting employees bak to work. Although recent data has indicated that coronavirus cases could decline during the summer, Trump said the guidelines would continue “until we feel it’s safe.”

“We’ll have to see where [coronavirus] is,” the president said. “I think people are going to know. You’re going to know. I’m going to know. I think people are going to know just out of common sense. At some point we won’t have to do that. But until we feel it’s safe we’re going to be extending.”

Trump’s remarks came after a presentation from Bill Bryan, head of the science and technology directorate at the Department of Homeland Security. Bryan said that sunlight could potentially kill the virus in seconds, but rejected the idea that warm weather would completely stop coronavirus. It’s “irresponsible” to suggest such a thing, he said, adding that summer does not mean “a free for all.”

“I would not go contrary to the guidance that has been issued right now,” Bryan continued. “I think though to tell you if I’m having an event with my family, I’m doing it in the driveway or the back yard, not inside the house.”

Although the president did not confirm that he would extend the guidelines, he has said in the past that he relies on public health advisers to make such decisions.

“I listened to experts,” Trump said in March. “We have Dr. [Anthony] Fauci. We have, as you know, we have Deborah Birx, who’s fantastic.”

Newsweek reached out to the CDC for comment.

Trump has previously claimed that the coronavirus pandemic would start to wane during warmer weather, saying in February that “the heat generally speaking kills this kind of virus.” In March, Trump said that “the death will be at a very low number” by the beginning of June.

An extension of social distancing guidelines may not come as a welcome development to some Americans. In some states, protesters have gathered to call for the end of social distancing.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow in April that protests in her state place state officials “in this situation where we might have to actually think about extending stay-at-home orders, which is supposedly what they are protesting.”

Trump, however, has voiced his support of the protesters. “They seem to be protesters that like me,” he said. “They all want to open. Nobody wants to stay shut, but they want to open safely.”

NEWSWEEK

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