President Donald Trump may want to reopen the U.S. economy by Easter — but the novel coronavirus wreaking havoc across the globe may have other plans.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, pointed out Wednesday that the virus is determining “the timeline” for the pandemic.
“You’ve gotta be realistic,” Fauci told CNN’s Chris Cuomo when asked when states, including hard-hit California and New York, could expect to see a reduction of infections. “You’ve got to understand that you don’t make the timeline, the virus makes the timeline.”
States need to respond to what’s happening in real-time, he continued. “If you keep seeing this acceleration, it doesn’t matter what you say. One week, two weeks, three weeks ― you’ve got to go with what the situation on the ground is.”
“You can’t make an arbitrary decision until you see what you’re dealing with. You need the data,” added Fauci, who ― like other medical professionals ― has urged Americans to “hunker down” and practice social distancing to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Fauci’s remarks stand in stark contrast to Trump’s assertion on Tuesday that he’d “love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” which falls on April 12 this year.
“We’ll give it some more time if we need a little more time, but we need to open this country up,” Trump said during a Fox News virtual town hall. “We have to go back to work, much sooner than people thought.”
Fauci, a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, has emerged as the most trusted leader in the U.S. on the coronavirus crisis, according to a Business Insider poll this week of more than 1,100 Americans.
The veteran doctor scored an average of 3.84 out of 5 for trustworthiness in the survey. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), Chris Cuomo’s brother, came in second, with a score of 3.29.
Trump, in contrast, scored an average of 2.56 out of 5.
Earlier Wednesday, Fauci told reporters during a White House briefing that while he was confident the U.S. would “be successful” in containing the coronavirus, known as COVID-19, this time around, he warned the virus could become a seasonal disease.
“We really need to be prepared for another cycle” to hit later this year, Fauci said.
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost.