President Donald Trump said the White House will extend its guidelines for the coronavirus outbreak — which include working from home, limiting gatherings to 10 people or less, and avoiding travel — until April 30.
The comments during Sunday's coronavirus task force briefing came after Trump previously said he wanted US churches, businesses, and schools to reopen by Easter on April 12, which would have been a medical disaster. The president later walked that back and said White House recommendations would be based on data about the spread of the virus.
On Sunday, Trump acknowledged that Easter could in fact be the peak of the outbreak, and it's likely the virus will continue to spread until at least June 1.
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Confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, continue to spike in the US as more tests are administered — and as more people die. As of Sunday, the US has reported more than 130,000 cases and more than 2,400 people have died.
At Sunday's briefing, Trump encouraged people to continue to follow the White House guidelines to slow the spread of the virus.
"The better you do, the faster this whole nightmare will end," he said.
He added that he initially considered taking no action, rather allowing the virus to run its course like the flu.
"I thought about it," he said. "I said maybe we should ride it through."
Had that been done, Trump said health officials estimated 1.6-2.2 million people in the US would die.
But given how contagious the coronavirus is, and how severely sick people are getting, Trump said he recognized the need for the government to step in.
At the same time, Trump also said he doubted that hospitals needed as much protective equipment as they said they needed. A shortage of personal protective equipment has been a major issues for many US hospitals, and doctors and nurses are among the people who are now getting sick.
Trump, presenting no evidence, baselessly implied that hospital workers were stealing the equipment.
"Something's going on, and you ought to look into it as reporters," Trump said. "Where are the masks going? Are they going out the back door?"
Trump previously told state governors that they should have to get ventilators and other equipment themselves, without the help of the federal government.
“Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves,” he said in mid-March.