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In his Sunday coronavirus press conference, President Trump extended national social distancing recommendations for another month. “We will be extending our guidelines to April 30 to slow the spread,” the president said. “We can expect by June 1, we will be way on our way to recovery.” Initially implemented on March 16, the recommendations — which include avoiding restaurants and bars, maintaining a distance of six feet from others, and banning groups of more than 10 — were set to expire on Tuesday, after a 15-day period.
Though the president did not directly acknowledge his about-face on the issue, last week he repeatedly suggested re-opening the economy in early April — just in time for the peak of the crisis to hit. In an interview with Fox News last week, he said that he’d like to have the country more-or-less back to normal by Easter on April 12 because “it would be a beautiful time and it’s just about the timeline that I think is right.” On Sunday, his tone was different:
When asked directly if “floating Easter [was] a mistake,” Trump dismissed his repeated preference for such a target — which incorrectly posited that allowing greater exposure and death would have resulted in economic growth. “No, that was just an aspiration … We don’t want to have a spike up.” He also didn’t mention that he effectively had no authority to order a re-opening, as closures have been directed by state governments and cities, which are most often more rigorous than federal guidelines.
On Sunday — after Trump threatened to set up a cordon sanitaire around the tri-state area — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel advisory for New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, urging residents to avoid non-essential travel for two weeks. As of Sunday, there are over 140,000 confirmed cases in the United States, and at least 2,457 deaths. Encouraging Americans to stay home for another month will help dampen the infection rate of the virus as well as decrease the likelihood that hospitals will become inundated with COVID-19 patients. In New York however, hospitals are already reaching capacity as cases double every three days.