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Trump says social distancing guidelines "may" be extended into summer or later

Debate heats up over reopening the U.S.
70% of Americans believe slowing spread of coronavirus is more important than reopening 03:05

President Trump says the administration's social distancing guidelines "may" extend into summer, or perhaps beyond that, as states shift gears and plan the reopening of their economies. But there is potentially good news for summer — research shows the virus' lifespan is shortened by sunlight, heat and humidity, one administration expert said during Thursday's Coronavirus Task Force briefing. 

The death toll from COVID-19 in the U.S. is likely to hit 50,000 in a couple of days, and there is no indication the pace of the nation's losses — in terms of both lives and the economy — is about to slow significantly.

"We're winning this and we're gonna win it," Mr. Trump said as he opened up the briefing. "And we're gonna keep watching and we're gonna watch very closely for the invisible enemy."

During the briefing, the president floated the idea that somehow, doctors might be able to apply light to sick coronavirus patients. Dr. Deborah Birx said she hadn't heard of such an idea. When a Washington Post reporter pressed the president on how they should be encouraged by the news that light and heat stunt the virus given the deaths in Florida, the president shot back. 

"I'm the president and you're fake news," he said. 

The Trump administration says sunlight, heat and humidity help kill the virus faster. Screenshot / CSPAN 

Members of the House returned to Washington, D.C., from their home districts to pass the $484 billion emergency relief package that replenishes the quickly depleted Paycheck Protection Program, which provides loans to small businesses struggling because of the epidemic.  

The measure, passed by the Senate on Tuesday, also boosts funding for hospitals and provides money for coronavirus testing. President Trump said he will sign the legislation — "I'm signing it probably tonight," he told reporters.

Administered by the Small Business Administration, the loan program aims to ensure businesses keep employees on the payroll and can also pay their own bills. Already, more than 26 million Americans have filed for unemployment. In the last week alone, 4.4 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment.

Governors in nearly all 50 states have issued stay-at-home orders and mandated nonessential businesses to close as part of efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Some governors have started rolling out plans to ease restrictions. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp plans to allow nonessential businesses — hair salons, bowling allies and tattoo parlors — to reopen Friday. Mr. Trump said Wednesday that he disagrees with Kemp's plan, and reiterated that on Thursday.

"I wasn't happy with Brian Kemp. I wasn't at all happy," the president said Thursday.

Trump facing backlash over pandemic response as he clashes with health experts 02:25
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