President Trump extends social distancing to end-April
President Donald Trump has announced social distancing guidelines will be extended until the end of April.
Zeke Miller and Jill Colvin reported the news for the AP:
Bracing the nation for a death toll that could exceed 100,000 people, President Donald Trump on Sunday extended restrictive social distancing guidelines through April, bowing to public-health experts who presented him with even more dire projections for the expanding coronavirus pandemic.
It was a stark shift in tone by the president, who only days ago mused about the country reopening in a few weeks. From the Rose Garden, he said his Easter revival hopes had only been “aspirational.”
The initial 15-day period of social distancing urged by the federal government expires Monday and Trump had expressed interest in relaxing the national guidelines at least in parts of the country less afflicted by the pandemic. He instead decided to extend them through April 30, a tacit acknowledgment he’d been too optimistic. Many states and local governments have stiffer controls in place on mobility and gatherings.
Paul LeBlanc, Jason Hoffman, and Kevin Liptak from CNN wrote:
The announcement marked an abrupt turnaround from a week ago when Trump said he was convinced the distancing restrictions were causing irreparable damage to the economy.
Even as his health advisers warned of dire consequences if Americans were allowed to return to large gatherings or crowded workplaces, Trump appeared intent on allowing a return to normal life.
On Sunday, however, Trump seemed to acknowledge that the spread of the virus had not slowed, at least not yet. He said that modeling shows that the peak of the death rate will likely hit in two weeks, but stressed that he hopes the country will be on its way to recovery by June 1.
“We can expect that by June 1st, we will be well on our way to recovery, we think by June 1st. A lot of great things will be happening,” he said.
Trump reiterated his intent to return life to normal.
“I want our life back again,” he said.
The White House’s social distancing guidance advises all Americans to avoid groups of more than 10 and urges older people to stay at home.
CNBC’s Emma Newburger reported:
Earlier in the day, White House health adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said the country could see up to 200,000 deaths and millions of infections, though he cautioned that the numbers are based on models and nothing is certain.
There are about 140,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., and at least 2,400 people have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
While Trump can issue federal guidelines, the president doesn’t have the power to decide if the country can reopen, since those decisions are being made by governors on a state-by-state basis. The Trump administration’s guidance advises people to stay mostly at home and avoid groups of more than 10.
States across the country have ordered residents to stay mostly indoors, and schools, restaurants and other businesses have shuttered. The CDC has urged New York, New Jersey and Connecticut residents to avoid non-essential travel for 14 days.