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President Trump is expected to announce a bipartisan advisory council Thursday including dozens of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle as he crafts guidelines for rolling back social distancing measures and reopening the economy amid the coronavirus crisis.
Sources tell Fox News the theme of Trump’s new guidelines will be “Opening Up America Again.”
White House officials said the guidelines will be “data-driven,” not date-driven. They will be “governor-led” and “layered,” not a cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all approach and will address the nation state-by-state, county-by-county.
In advance of the press conference, Fox News obtained a copy of the administration’s guidelines.
The guidelines will be “recommendations” guided by “medically-based metrics” for governors to develop their own plans to reopen, Fox News is told.
The White House says while some governors will continue shelter-in-place recommendations, others will be able to open back up again. Some may be able to reopen before the April 30 expiration of the current guidelines. The guidelines will include restaurants, bars and other public venues, plus sporting events.
The White House said the president’s medical advisors, Dr. Deborah Birx, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Robert Redfield have all signed off on the guidelines.
Fox News has learned that the council will include many lawmakers from Capitol Hill, including the majority of Senate Republicans and roughly two-dozen Senate Democrats — including Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and Mark Warner, D-Va.
Additionally, the council is expected to include about nearly two-dozen bipartisan House lawmakers. Some lawmakers already have put out statements on the matter.
“I am honored to be asked to serve on this bipartisan Presidential task force to prepare for reopening our economy,” Durbin said in a statement Thursday. “We still have work to do to stop the spread of this virus, but we need to think in positive terms of the day America once again will be open for business.”
Duckworth took a swipe at the president in announcing her involvement.
“For the sake of the nearly 25,000 Americans who have already lost their lives to COVD-19—and the countless more that will succumb in the weeks and months ahead—I wish Donald Trump had been as eager to prepare our country for this pandemic as he is to rush towards normalcy when his own experts are warning ‘we’re not there yet,’” Duckworth said Thursday. “As a member of this task force, I will do everything in my power to remind Donald Trump of his responsibility to protect public health.”
A congressional source familiar told Fox News Thursday that lawmakers who were selected by the president to be part of the advisory group received an email from the White House Wednesday afternoon notifying them.
The White House has stressed that the group should be considered more of an advisory board or council, rather than a task force, but lawmakers were told otherwise.
The subject line, according to the source, read: “IMPORTANT: Congressional Task Force.”
“I am writing to inform you that the President has selected you to serve on a task force comprised of senators and members of the House of Representatives,” the email stated. “The purpose of the task force is to provide counsel to the president on the reopening of America in the wake of COVID-19.The formal name of this task force has not yet been announced.”
The email went on to say that: “soon, the White House will be announcing the complete list of members of this task force and will be following up with more details.”
Sources told Fox News Thursday that the council’s efforts are expected to be focused on a safe, data-driven approach. In terms of reopening the economy, a source told Fox News that there is likely to be different guidance for different areas of the country, as part of the state-by-state response led by governors.
Another source told Fox News that experts are “in agreement with what will be announced.”
Trump teased the announcement Thursday afternoon, saying he’d hold a “Major News Conference” to discuss “OPENING UP AMERICA AGAIN!”
The president first floated the prospect of the council last week.
The president, last week, said that he understands the gravity of the situation as he prepares to make a decision on whether to ease social distancing guidelines to open the economy, which has been largely shuttered in many states to curb transmission.
“I would say without question it’s the biggest decision I’ve ever had to make,” Trump said.
“It’s been my honor to be the president for the American people… I have a big decision coming up and I only hope to God it’s the right decision,” Trump said.
The White House, last month, announced it extended its guidelines to “slow the spread” to April 30.
The president vowed Friday to listen to experts should they recommend a further extension of the White House social distancing guidelines.
”We’re not doing anything until we know that this country is going to be healthy,” he said. “We don’t want to go back and start doing it over again.”
But on Wednesday, Trump signaled his desire to restart the economy once more, as he argued the U.S. has likely “passed the peak” of new cases.
As of Thursday, the U.S. reported more than 640,000 positive cases on Thursday and more than 31,000 deaths due to the coronavirus.
Fox News’ John Roberts contributed to this report.