Watch CBS News

'Just Too Soon': Trump On Elements Of Georgia's Reopening Plan

(CNN) -- President Donald Trump says he strongly disagrees with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp's plan to reopen part of the state's economy, especially the part of putting beauty salons and other establishments that require close personal contact back in business.

Georgia's move to reopen its economy is the most aggressive in the US, but many other states are also looking for ways to put people back to work, even while the coronavirus remains a public health threat.

And a coronavirus model routinely cited by the White House warns that no state should be opening before May 1, and that Georgia should not reopen until June 19 -- almost eight weeks from now.

"It's just too soon," Trump said Wednesday at the daily White House news briefing on coronavirus when asked about Kemp's timetable. "The spas and the beauty parlors and the barber shops ... I love them but they can want a little bit longer, just a little bit, not much, because safety has to predominate."

He said he told Kemp "very simply that I disagree with his decision, but he has to do what he thinks is right."

Kemp, a staunch ally of Trump, on Monday announced Georgia would allow nail salons, massage therapists, bowling alleys and gyms to open Friday. In-person church services can resume. Restaurants and movie theaters can open Monday, but bars cannot open yet.

Many public health officials warned Kemp is moving too quickly, and some business owners said they would keep their doors closed. Mayors said they feared Kemp's action would deepen the coronavirus crisis in their communities.

CNN has reached out to Kemp's office for comment. After Trump's comments, Kemp tweeted that he appreciated Trump's "bold leadership and insight."

"Our next measured step is driven by data and guided by state public health officials. We will continue with this approach to protect the lives -- and livelihoods -- of all Georgians. ... I am confident that business owners who decide to reopen will adhere to Minimum Basic Operations, which prioritize the health and well-being of employees and customers."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Trump's infectious disease adviser, was asked what he would say to Kemp.

"If I were advising the governor, i would tell him to be careful," Fauci said. "Going ahead and leapfrogging into phases where you should not be, I would advise him, as a health official and a physician, not to do that."

States should not reopen before May 1, coronavirus model shows

While other states discussed plans to reopen parts of their economies, a coronavirus model routinely cited by the White House warns that no state should be opening before May 1.

South Carolina and Georgia, which are leading the pack to get their economic engines humming again this week, should not open until June 5 and June 19, respectively, according to the model maintained by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. It was updated Tuesday.

Montana has the best forecast at May 1, while the only other states that should open by May 10, the model says, are Alaska, Hawaii, North Carolina, Vermont and West Virginia. North Carolina is the only one of the six states with more than 1,000 cases, as of Wednesday afternoon.

About half the states in the country should remain closed until May 25 or later, with Arizona (June 23), South Dakota (June 25), Iowa (June 26), Nebraska (June 30) and North Dakota (July 12) rounding out the bottom of the list.

The reopening dates assume that states will have other measures in place -- aggressive testing, contact tracing, isolation, limits on the size of gatherings -- to prevent a resurgence of the virus.

The IHME model relies on a conservative threshold of one infection per 1 million people, which is the level of infection each state could conceivably manage using containment strategies, such as widespread testing, contact tracing and isolation of new cases, according to an explanation of the model.

Experts to states: Slow down

As the numbers grow, the timeline for relaxing social distancing measures should be slowed down, Murray said.

IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray's team was taken aback when Georgia, which still has a high number of infections, announced it would soon ease restrictions, he said. Kemp has said his state is prepared to handle an uptick in cases as businesses begin reopening Friday.

"If people start to go back to normal social interaction or even progressively go back, the risk of transmission will go up ... and then you go back to the sort of exponential rise that was happening before we put in social distancing," Murray told CNN. "The risk is very great for resurgence from these early openings."

Redfield walks back comments

On Tuesday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director gave an ominous forecast of a possible second wave of the virus in the winter.

"There's a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through," Robert Redfield told The Washington Post. "We're going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time."

Trump and Redfield on Wednesday walked back Redfield's comments. Trump claimed Redfield was "totally misquoted in the media on a statement about the fall season and the virus."

"He was talking about the flu and corona(virus) coming together at the same time. And corona(virus) could just be some little flareups that we'll take care of," he added.

Redfield said, "I didn't say this was going to be worse. I said it was going to be more complicated -- or more difficult and potentially complicated because we'll have flu and coronavirus circulating at the same time."

States, cities grapple with how to move forward

Last week, the federal government said in order to launch the first of three phases of reopening, states should wait to see a 14-day decline in cases.

South Carolina and Georgia have hit neither milestone but announced they'll be easing restrictions.

Atlanta is exploring whether the city has legal grounds for putting different orders in place than what Kemp has announced, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told CNN on Tuesday

"I am at a loss as to what the governor is basing this decision on," she said.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson told CNN on Wednesday, "Savannah is not prepared to reopen."

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster announced certain stores are allowed to open at 20% capacity, and beaches can reopen, too, but schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg told CNN on Wednesday that he thought McMaster's reopening plan was "a measured response" that took safety and social distancing into account.

"It's not like he opened the barn door and everything flies out," Tecklenburg said.

He said Georgia may have gone too far with its plan, which allows "contact businesses" such as barber shops and beauty salons to reopen.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to give a correct timeframe for the earliest date Georgia could safely reopen, according to the model maintained by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.


View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.