SHARE
In a first, small step toward reopening the country, the Trump administration issued new guidelines Wednesday to make it easier for essential workers who have been exposed to COVID-19 to get back to work if they do not have symptoms of the coronavirus.

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, announced at the White House that essential employees, such as health care and food supply workers, who have been within 6 feet of a confirmed or suspected case of the virus can return to work under certain circumstances if they are not experiencing symptoms.

The new guidelines are being issued as the nation mourns more than 14,000 deaths from the virus and grapples with a devastated economy and medical crises from coast to coast. Health experts continue to caution Americans to practice social distancing and to avoid returning to their normal activities. At the same time, though, they are planning for a time when the most serious threat from COVID-19 will be in the country’s rear-view mirror.

President Donald Trump said that while he knows workers are “going stir crazy” at home, he can’t predict when the threat from the virus will wane.

“The numbers are changing and they’re changing rapidly and soon we’ll be over that curve. We’ll be over the top and we’ll be headed in the right direction. I feel strongly about that,” Trump said about the coronavirus, which he called “this evil beast.”

“I can’t tell you in terms of the date,” Trump said, adding cases could go down and then once again “start going up if we’re not careful. ”

At some point, he said at his daily briefing, social distancing guidelines will disappear and people will be able to sit together at sports events. “At some point, we expect to be back, like it was before,” he said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said if the existing guidelines asking people to practice social distancing through the end of April are successful in halting the spread of the virus, more relaxed recommendations could be in order.