President Donald Trump and his coronavirus task force on Monday issued new, stricter guidelines to stop the spread of the disease, including that states with evidence of community transmission should close bars, restaurants and other indoor and outdoor venues where groups of people congregate.
The new nationwide guidelines also call on Americans to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people; avoid eating and drinking in bars, restaurants, and public food courts; and encouraging schooling from home across the country.
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“My administration is recommending that all Americans, including the young and healthy, work to engage in schooling from home when possible, avoid gathering in groups of more than ten people, avoid discretionary travel and avoid eating and drinking in bars, restaurants, and public food courts,” Trump said.
“If everyone makes this change or these critical changes and sacrifices now, we will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus, and we are going to have a big celebration altogether. With several weeks of focused action, we can turn the corner and turn it quickly — a lot of progress has been made.”
Holding up a piece of paper, Trump explained that everyone needed to comply for them to slow the spread.
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“It’s important for the young and healthy people to understand that while they may experience milder symptoms, they can easily spread this virus and they will spread it indeed, putting countless others in harm’s way,” Trump said.
Asked by a reporter how long it would last, Trump replied, “people are talking about July, August, something like that.” He said he likes to say it “washes through” but “other people don’t like that term.”
The guidelines say that “In states with evidence of community transmission, bars, restaurants, food courts, gyms, and other indoor and outdoor venues where groups of people congregate should be closed.”
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National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci said it was important to be aggressive, but noted the new guidelines apply only to the next 15 days.
“We really want people to be separated at this time,” Amb. Deborah Birx, the White House’s point person on coronavirus, said.
President Trump said a nationwide quarantine was not being considered “at this point.”
But he said, “We may look at certain areas, certain hot spots, as they call them.”
Asked, “Are you considering instituting a nationwide lockdown, a nationwide quarantine? There are still some questions about that,’ Trump then responded:
“At this point, not nationwide. But there are some, you know, places in our nation that are not very effective at all but we may, we may look at certain areas, certain hot spots as they call them. We’ll be looking at that. But, at this moment, no we are not.”
As he spoke, the Dow Jones Industrial average closed down just short of 3,000 points.
Asked if the economy is headed into a recession, Trump said, “Well, it may be.”
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“We’re not thinking in terms of recession. We are thinking in terms of the virus,” Trump said. “I think there is a tremendous pent-up demand both in terms of the stock market and in terms of the economy and once this goes away. Once it goes through and we are done with that, you’re going to see a tremendous surge.”
He expressed confidence that the economy will rebound with strength “once this goes away.”
Labeling the coronavirus an “invisible enemy,” the president said he doesn’t ultimately determine what makes a recession.
“I don’t, number one, determine recession. I just say this, we have an invisible enemy. We have a problem that a month ago no one ever thought about,” he said.
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For now, the president said his focus is on the virus, not a possible recession.
“My focus is really on getting rid of this problem, this virus problem. Once we do that, everything else is gonna fall into place,”
Asked by ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Cecilia Vega about how he’s talking to his own family about the coronavirus outbreak, President Trump acknowledged that people are “very scared.”
He said he’s talked to his youngest son about how bad the virus is and said “it’s bad.”
Trump again expressed surprise about the virus’ spread but said, “hopefully it is going to be a best case, not a worst-case. That is what we are working for.”
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Trump confirmed a New York Times report that he told governors they should try to get things like respirators and masks on their own.
“If they can get them faster by getting them on their own — in other words, go through a supply chain that they may have because, you know, the governors during normal times, the governors buy a lot of things — not necessarily through federal government,” Trump said.
The president was then asked how many ventilators and ICU beds the U.S. has prepared right now and if it that will be enough. He did not have a number.
“I could get back to you with that number,” Trump said. “We have ordered a lot, we have quite a few but it may not be enough. And if it’s not enough, we will have it by the time we need it. Hopefully we won’t need them.”
Here are Monday’s most significant developments in Washington:
Fauci tells reporters new guidelines are imminent
Fauci told reporters at a White House briefing Sunday that “you’re going to see some advanced and updated guidelines tomorrow,” after he was asked what Americans should do as the impact of the outbreak hits their daily lives, airports, restaurants and other places.
“They’re going to address some but not all of the questions and concerns,” Fauci said.
Fauci would not say if the federal government would recommend shuttering bars and restaurants. In a series of TV interviews earlier that day, he had said he supported more intense measures, like a 14-day shutdown across the country.
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Later Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance recommending that, for the next eight weeks, “large events and mass gatherings” that draw 50 or more people should be canceled or postponed, excluding those at more critical institutions like businesses, schools and institutions of higher learning. Such types of events include “conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies,” the CDC said.
It was unclear if those were the guidelines Fauci had promised or if the administration would release more Monday.
On Monday morning, officials denied a CNN report that the administration had been discussing encouraging a “curfew” for non-essential businesses across the country. White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere called the story “not true,” while the vice president’s press secretary, Katie Miller, said it was “not correct.”
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Members of the president’s coronavirus task force had been scheduled to brief reporters at the White House at 10:30 a.m., but just over an hour before the news conference was supposed to start, the White House postponed the briefing until 3:30 p.m.
It did not give a reason for the delay, although the postponement came as markets opened sharply down.
The Federal Reserve on Sunday announced that it was slashing interest rates to near zero and announced $700 billion in quantitative easing program, but that did not prevent trading on Wall Street from being temporarily halted soon after markets opened amid the worldwide ripple effect of the coronavirus outbreak.
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Over the course of his presidency, Trump has repeatedly called for the Federal Reserve to cut rates and had been effusive in his praise of the move Sunday.
He has also repeatedly cited stock market gains as he pitches his reelection, but he was silent Monday morning as the markets plummeted.
Kudlow, the economic adviser, declined to directly say whether he believed the economy was heading into a recession.
“We are going to be challenged, no question about it,” Kudlow said. “I don’t need to have labels on this, we’ll take it one step at a time.”
Meanwhile, Trump and Pence had promised that Google would soon finish a website that anyone in the country could visit, input their symptoms, and find out if they needed to be tested for the coronavirus. If the answer was yes, they said, the website would tell them where to go.
Pence, on Friday and Saturday, promised a “specific” timeline for the site by Sunday evening.
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But it immediately became clear that they wildly misrepresented what Google was actually doing.
In reality, a research arm of Google’s parent company, Verily, said later that day it was “in the early stages of development” of such a site, that it would be rolled out in the San Francisco Bay Area and that the company had the “hope of expanding more broadly over time.”
Google said Sunday it was pushing out information from the CDC and the World Health Organization via the Google homepage, and that it was “partnering with the U.S. government in developing a website dedicated to COVID-19 education, prevention, and local resources nationwide.”
It said that website — whose description did not include the interactive features previewed by the White House — would come late Monday.
Even so, as late as Sunday evening, Pence was still promising the interactive site would be coming “at some point, early in the week.”