WASHINGTON, D.C. — The White House on Monday urged all older Americans to stay home and everyone to avoid crowds and eating out at restaurants as part of sweeping guidelines meant to combat an expected surge of coronavirus cases.
President Donald Trump and the coronavirus task force released the guidelines as the U.S. government moved to try to blunt the impact of the virus, racing to bolster testing and aid even as financial markets fell and Americans scrambled to reorder their lives.
Among the new recommendations: Over the next 15 days, Americans should not gather in groups of more than 10 people, schooling should be at home and discretionary travel and social visits should be avoided. If anyone in a household tests positive for the virus, everyone who lives there should stay home.
The president, in an appearance in the White House briefing room, when asked when the pandemic would subside, said that “if we do a really good job” the crisis could pass by July or August, a far less optimistic take than in his earlier predictions that it could be over within weeks.
“We will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus,” Trump said. “We can turn the corner and turn it quickly.”
The president also, for the first time, acknowledged that the virus, which has battered the global markets, may send the nation’s economy into a recession, a potentially brutal blow for an incumbent in an election year. He also, without providing details, said of the administration, “we’re going to back the airlines 100%,” a note of reassurance for an industry crippled by travel bans and fears of spreading the virus.
Trump, who adopted his most somber tone yet when discussing the crisis, acknowledged that it was “not under control” in the United States or globally but said he did not yet plan to call for domestic travel restrictions. He said the U.S. will probably be dealing with this pandemic until July or August.
President Trump and other leaders of the Group of Seven countries spoke in a video teleconference about coordinating their responses to the virus. This, after some European leaders were upset by Trump’s decision last week to impose a travel ban without consulting them.
Trump has implored Americans not to hoard groceries and supplies, saying there is no need to do so, as the White House works to get diagnostic testing much more widely available after lagging on that front for weeks. It was not considering enacting or recommending a nation-wide curfew, nor enacting limits on domestic travel, according to a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity to address spiraling rumors.