US President Donald Trump speaks during a Coronavirus Task Force press briefing in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 29, 2020.
Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images
President Donald Trump on Sunday extended the national social distancing guidelines to April 30, walking back his previous remarks that he wanted the country to reopen for business by Easter.
“Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory has been won,” Trump said at an evening press briefing after suggesting that the coronavirus death rate would likely peak in two weeks.
Public health experts have warned that loosening restrictions by Easter, on April 12, would result in unnecessary death and economic damage. But Trump claimed on Sunday that Easter was just an “aspiration” and that he hopes the country will “be well on our way to recovery” by June 1.
While he can issue federal guidelines, the president doesn’t have the power to decide if the country can reopen, since it’s the decision of each state. 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.
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 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.
Trump also alleged on Sunday that hospitals and healthcare workers were hoarding ventilators, which are in scarce supply across the country. The president cited no evidence to back up the claim and it was not clear what facilities he was referring to.
City and state officials have consistently called for more medical supplies as hospitals see a major influx of patients.