President Trump said Monday the U.S. is “sort of putting it all on the line this 30 days,” after he extended his Easter deadline for getting the country back to work to April 30. Mr. Trump has been eager to get the country back to work but said he was persuaded to extend social distancing guidelines after public health experts presented him with models showing as many as 2 million Americans could die without mitigating action.
Members of the Coronavirus Task Force, charged with leading the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic, are holding a briefing as the nation hunkers down for a month of social distancing and business shutdowns. Mr. Trump had hoped that Americans would begin a return to normalcy by Easter Sunday on April 12, but the president in the Rose Garden on Sunday that the date was “aspirational.” Instead, recommendations from the federal government for Americans to work from home, limit social gatherings to no more than 10 people and avoid travel will remain in place until April 30.
On Monday, the president revealed a new coronavirus testing system from Abbott labs that is expected to be able to deliver positive results within five minutes, a significant breakthrough as the U.S. endeavors to ramp up its testing.
The president brought business leaders on stage, including the My Pillow founder, to share what they’re doing to manufacture tens of thousands of N95 masks.
Mr. Trump also took a rare personal moment to share that many of his own friends have fallen ill from COVID-19, and one of those friends is in a coma.
How to watch the Coronavirus Task Force briefing
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN in an interview Monday that he and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, had approached Mr. Trump in the Oval Office with modeling showing the death toll from the coronavirus in the U.S. could be as high as 200,000 and “argued strongly” that the guidelines remain in place.
“We made it very clear to him that if we pulled back on what we were doing and didn’t extend them, there would be more avoidable suffering and avoidable death,” Fauci said. “It was a pretty clear decision on his part.”
There are more than 159,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.S., and more than 2,500 people have died from the deadly illness.