Acting on the advice of the experts, President Donald Trump has extended “social distancing” guidelines until April 30. “Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won,” the president remarked during a White House press conference. “On Tuesday,” Trump continued, “we will be finalizing these plans and providing a summary of our findings, supporting data, and strategy to the American people.”
There has been much skepticism about the president’s earlier projection that the guidelines laid down to slow the spread of COVID-19 could be relaxed by mid-April. Initially, the White House had proposed 15 days of social distancing to mitigate the rate of infection. That period expired on March 30, with the numbers still moving in the wrong direction.
As of March 29, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had put the total number of U.S. cases – confirmed and presumptive – at 122,653. The number of deaths now stands at 2,112. Those numbers will be updated again on March 30. The hardest-hit states are New York and New Jersey.
The spread of COVID-19 has gathered pace, despite the many restrictions on public interaction imposed by most states. The number of cases in the U.S. topped 1000 on March 11 and, by March 14, had surpassed 2,200. From that point on, the number of infected has increased exponentially, from less than 7,000 on March 25 to more than 10,300 by March 27.
Describing the modeling he had been shown, the president advised that the death rate would likely peak in about two weeks – around April 15. Trump expressed hope that things would be on the road to recovery within a few weeks after that projected apex. “We can expect that by June 1, we will be well on our way to recovery,” he told reporters. “We think by June 1, a lot of great things will be happening.”
A few days earlier, the president gave a press conference outlining some of the measures taken to deal with the virus. Trump summarized the CARES Act stimulus package – a law passed to help Americans with the burden of having to shut down businesses and stop working to self-isolate. He stressed the top points, such as:
- Loan forgiveness for businesses.
- Relief payments for individuals and families.
- Expanded unemployment benefits.
- Childcare workers benefits.
- Ban on corporate stock buybacks.
- $1 billion towards the Defense Production Act procurement.
When it comes to cases of COVID-19, it was revealed that 19 states (roughly 40% of the nation) have less than 200 cases and that they are testing. Point of care tests will hopefully be available soon and would allow people to test at their local doctor’s office and have results within 15 days, the VP said, adding that self-collection using swabs to test at home is now being done throughout the country.
The virus has not yet worked its way out of the nation’s system, so in the meantime, the president urged everyone to continue practicing the procedures put into place and to “stay home. Just relax, stay home.”