WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald J. Trump is extending the voluntary national shutdown for a month as sickness and death from the coronavirus pandemic continue to rise.
During a briefing Sunday afternoon, Trump said the peak of the disease would hit sometime in the next two weeks, and that extending the country’s corona guidelines will slow the spread of the virus.
Trump added that he thinks the country could be well on its way to recovery by June 1, a shift from his earlier forecast of an Easter return to normal.
The initial 15 days of social distancing urged by the federal government is expiring, and Trump had expressed interest in relaxing the guidelines, at least in parts of the country less afflicted by the pandemic. But instead of easing off of shutdowns by Easter, he decided on an extension.
His foremost infectious disease expert said the country could soon experience over 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 says. “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. has over 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.
Federal guidelines discourage large group gatherings, promote social distancing, 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.
Many states and local governments, including New York, have even stricter controls in place on mobility and gatherings than the federal suggestions.
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