US President Donald Trump said Sunday he would extend nationwide social distancing guidelines for another 30 days, an abrupt back-down from his push to reopen the country as coronavirus continues to spread.
The 15-day guidelines Trump announced two weeks ago were set to expire on Monday, and the American president had suggested over the past week that he was looking to relax them, at least in some parts of the country. H
e even floated Easter, on April 12, as a potential date by which the country could return to normal.
But on Sunday he said he’d decided to extend the guidelines — which include suggested limits on large gatherings — to April 30, a sign his earlier predictions were overly rosy.
“The better you do, the faster this whole nightmare will end,” the President said Sunday at a White House news conference.
He said he would be finalizing a new plan and strategy early this week and announcing the details on Tuesday.
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.
The United States has the highest number of coronavirus cases worldwide at 143,025, according to Johns Hopkins University.
A senior member of Trump’s coronavirus task force, Anthony Fauci, told CNN the outbreak could cause 100,000 to 200,000 deaths in the United States alone before qualifying his estimate, “I just don’t think that we really need to make a projection, when it’s such a moving target that you can so easily be wrong and mislead people,” he said.