President Donald Trump has extended federal social distancing guidelines through the end of April, thus walking back an earlier insistence that America should be “opened up and just raring to go by Easter” despite warnings from health professionals about the growing severity of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
At a Sunday press conference, Trump claimed that the Easter deadline was simply an “aspiration,” and that he now expects the nation to “be well on our way to recovery” from the pandemic by June 1. The latest model predictions, he continued, indicate that the outbreak’s peak death rate should hit in two weeks.
Earlier on Sunday, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said that America could eventually see 100,000 to 200,000 deaths from covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus, based on the rate it’s currently spreading.
At the press conference, Trump bragged that these numbers were significantly lower than the death tally predicted if the government didn’t act at all, which was estimated to be as high as 2.2 million. Admittedly, “better than nothing” is a pitifully low bar when it comes to addressing a deadly outbreak.
Trump also falsely attributed America’s global lead in confirmed coronavirus cases, which has surpassed 100,000, to the fact that “we’ve been doing more tests than any other country anywhere in the world.” In actuality, the U.S. continues to lag behind other countries in terms of testing per capita, even if the total number of tests conducted does outrank that of other, smaller nations. To date, roughly 0.2 percent of America’s total population has been screened, per a Washington Post report.
As part of its social distancing guidelines, the CDC recommends people avoid unnecessary travel, bars, restaurants, nursing homes, and gatherings that include more than 10 people. Anyone who is elderly or has a serious underlying health condition is advised to stay at home, as those demographic groups are most at risk for contracting covid-19.