WebMD News Brief

Trump Extends Social Distancing Guidelines

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March 30, 2020 — President Donald Trump extended the nation’s social distancing guidelines until April 30 in an effort to slow the surging number of COVID-19 cases in the United States. Trump had previously talked about relaxing them on Easter, which is April 12.

"We will be extending our guidelines to April 30 to slow the spread," he said, and will finalize the plan on Tuesday. "Over the next 2 weeks, it is very important to follow the guidelines." 

"We can expect by June 1 we will be well on our way to recovery," Trump said. He said that he made his decision after input from Anthony Fauci, MD, and Deborah Birx, MD, key coronavirus task force members.

The U.S. now leads the world in the number of cases of COVID-19, with more than 144,000. The country also has more than 2,400 deaths attributed to the virus. Public health officials had pushed back on the idea of relaxing the guidelines before the virus was under more control.

Trump also said he was no longer considering the idea of opening up less hard-hit areas of the country sooner than others.

"We shouldn't take any solace'' when areas have low levels, Fauci said, as the numbers can escalate quickly.

Birx said the task force reviewed 12 data models to make the recommendation to extend the distancing guidelines.

Fauci said that while using models has pros and cons, it's crucial ''to look at the data as it is evolving and do everything you can to mitigate it."

Earlier in the day, Fauci said models show that the U.S. could potentially have millions of cases of coronavirus and more than 100,000 deaths.

He said on CNN's State of the Union that experts can't predict for sure how many cases and deaths the country will have. “We don't really have any firm idea,” Fauci said to host Jake Tapper.

“There are things called models. And when someone creates a model, they put in various assumptions. And the model is only as good and as accurate as your assumptions. And whenever the modelers come in, they give a worst-case scenario and a best-case scenario,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “Generally, the reality is somewhere in the middle.

“I mean, looking at what we're seeing now, I would say between 100,000 and 200,000” deaths and “millions of cases.”

Fauci added that he didn't think we needed to make a projection “when it's such a moving target, that you can so easily be wrong and mislead people.

“What we do know, Jake, is that we got a serious problem in New York, we have a serious problem in New Orleans, and we're going to be developing serious problems in other areas,” Fauci said.

Worldwide, the number of cases has surged to more than 710,000, with more than 33,000 deaths.

WebMD Health News Brief

Sources

White House Coronavirus Task Force, March 29, 2020.

CNN: State of the Union, March 29, 2020.

Johns Hopkins University.

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