WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR/AP) – President Donald Trump has extended the country’s coronavirus guidelines to April 30.
During a briefing Sunday afternoon, Trump said with the peak of the disease to hit sometime in the next two weeks and extending the guidelines will slow the spread of the virus.
“The better you do, the faster this whole nightmare will end,” he said.
The federal guidelines recommend against large group gatherings and urge older people and anyone with existing health problems to stay home. People are urged to work at home when possible and avoid restaurants, bars, non-essential travel and shopping trips.
Trump added that he thinks the country could be well on its way to recovery by June 1.
Earlier last week, Trump set an Easter date as to when things may start moving back to normal. However, his foremost infectious disease expert said the country could soon experience more than 100,000 deaths and millions of infections from the pandemic.
Sunday, the president called his initial Easter date an “aspiration” as to when the country may begin returning to normalcy.
“That was an aspirational number,” Trump said. “I didn’t say Easter. I said it would be a great thing if we could do it by Easter and we know much more now than we knew two, three weeks ago.”
Trump added that Easter should be the day the number of deaths due to COVID-19 hit their peak number and they should begin falling after that.
The U.S. had more than 139,000 COVID-19 cases reported by Sunday evening, with more than 2,400 deaths. During the course of the Rose Garden briefing, reported deaths grew by several dozen and the number of cases by several thousand.
One in 3 Americans remain under state or local government orders to stay at home to slow the spread of the virus, with schools and businesses closed and public life upended.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, offered his prognosis as the federal government weighs rolling back guidelines on social distancing in areas that have not been as hard-hit by the outbreak at the conclusion of the nationwide 15-day effort to slow the spread of the virus.
“I would say between 100,000 and 200,000 cases,” he said, correcting himself to say he meant deaths. “We’re going to have millions of cases.” But he added “I don’t want to be held to that” because the pandemic is “such a moving target.”
About 125,000 cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. had been recorded as of Sunday morning, with over 2,100 dead. It is certain that many more have the disease but their cases have not been reported.
One in three Americans remain under state or local government orders to stay at home to slow the spread of the virus, with schools and businesses closed and public life upended.
Dr. Deborah Birx, head of the White House coronavirus task force, said parts of the country with few cases so far must prepare for what’s to come. “No state, no metro area, will be spared,” she said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Fauci said he would only support the rollback in lesser-impacted areas if more testing is in place to monitor those areas. He said “it’s a little iffy there” right now.
Most people who contract COVID-19 have mild or moderate symptoms, which can include fever and cough but also milder cases of pneumonia, sometimes requiring hospitalization. The risk of death is greater for older adults and people with other health problems. Hospitals in the most afflicted areas are straining to handle patients and some are short of critical supplies.