Trump extends social distancing norms amid dire Covid-19 warning
President Trump announced the extension of the 15-day guidance on social distancing, issued on March 16 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by a full month in recognition of the gravity of the novel coronavirus outbreak he has been reluctant to acknowledge; America has the most Covid-19 cases in the world now.Updated: Mar 30, 2020 12:22 IST
President Donald Trump on Sunday said he expects the US coronavirus outbreak to peak in two weeks, around Easter when he had earlier hoped to withdraw restrictions and put the country back in business, adding that he was extending social distancing guidelines in place by a month till April 30.
As the number of cases in the United States rose to nearly 137,000, up by 35,000, and deaths to 2.409, a jump of 300, one of Trump’s top health advisers warned that coronavirus cases could go into “millions” and fatalities to between 100,000 and 200,000, based on modelling and discounting mitigation efforts.
President Trump announced the extension of the 15-day guidance, issued on March 16 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by a full month in recognition of the gravity of the outbreak he has been reluctant to acknowledge; America has the most cases in the world now.
“We will be extending our guidelines to April 30 to slow the spread,” the US president told reporters at an outdoor White House briefing on the outbreak. “On Tuesday, we will be finalising these plans and providing a summary of our findings, supporting data and strategy to the American people.”
Called the “15 days to slow the spread”, the CDC guidelines were a template followed by state, city and municipal governments around the country to combat the coronavirus — a series of stay-at-home recommendations for people who felt ill, or someone in their family, and for the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions, the most vulnerable.
State and local governments built on them to issue stay-at-home orders as cases and fatalities escalated in their respective jurisdictions. More than half of America’s 50 states are under these restrictions now, or variations of it, with exemptions for services and workers deemed essential.
Trump had hoped to reverse them around Easter, the Christian holiday that falls on April 12, arguing that the restrictions had been more damaging for people and the economy than the illness. Queried about it on Sunday, he said his target date was “aspirational”.
“Easter should be the peak number,” Trump said about his new assessment of the situations, adding, “The modelling estimates that the peak in death rate is likely to (be) hit in two weeks.”
Experts on Trump’s task force on coronavirus have used the same concept of modelling to project a more dire picture of the impeding crisis than the president is inclined to concede.
“Whenever the models come in, they give a worst-case scenario and a best-case scenario,” Anthony Fauci, head of epidemiology at the National Institutes Health and a leading member of Trump’s coronavirus task force, said to CNN, referring to constructs researchers use to project future outcomes.
He added: “Generally, the reality is somewhere in the middle. I’ve never seen a model of the diseases that I’ve dealt with where the worst case actually came out. They always overshoot,”
“I mean, looking at what we’re seeing now, you know, I would say between 100 and 200,000 (deaths). But I don’t want to be held to that,” Fauci said, adding that the US is going to have “millions of case”.