Health

Trump Extends Social Distancing Guidelines Through April

Previously, the president has said he wanted the U.S. economy “opened up and raring to go” by Easter.

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President Trump announced that all Americans must continue social distancing measures through April to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Measures include avoiding nonessential travel, eating at bars or restaurants, and gathering in groups larger than 10.  

"Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won," the president said on Sunday, after touting only five days earlier that he wanted the U.S. economy “opened up and raring to go” by Easter.

Prior to his extension of social distancing measures, the president had spent weeks downplaying the severe spread of the virus in the U.S.

In a CNN interview on Monday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the coronavirus task force had “argued strongly with the President” to extend federal social distancing guidelines, “and he did listen.”

“We felt that if we prematurely pulled back, we would only form an acceleration or a rebound of something, which would put you behind where you were before,” Dr. Fauci said of. “And that’s the reason why we argued strongly with the president that he not withdraw those guidelines after 15 days, but that he extend them, and he did listen.” 

Citing figures from his advisors, Trump on Sunday estimated that as many as 200,000 people could die of the virus in the U.S., even if the country took aggressive action to curb the spread of the outbreak. On Monday, he said that the peak of the COVID-19 death rate will likely hit in mid-April, though he cited no data to back up that claim, and asserted that the spread of the virus would hopefully be stifled by June.

“We can expect that by June 1, we will be well on our way to recovery,” Mr. Trump said. “We think by June 1. A lot of great things will be happening.”

As of Monday, more than 143,500 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the U.S., according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, with at least 2,300 related deaths.