US President Donald Trump on Monday urged Americans to avoid traveling and gathering in public spaces in an effort to blunt the spread of the coronavirus, adding the outbreak could last into July or August.
“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. We’re going to have a big celebration all together,” Trump said during a press briefing at the White House, according to The Hill.
According to the new guidelines announced by Trump, officials recommend that for the next 15 days Americans avoid gatherings of more than 10 people; avoid discretionary travel; avoid eating in bars, restaurants and food courts; and work or engage in schooling from home when possible.
“We’d much rather be ahead of the curve than behind it,” Trump said, in his most direct appeal yet for Americans to take the virus seriously and avoid public settings where the coronavirus can be easily spread.
Trump told reporters that the coronavirus could continue to factor into American life into July or August.
“They think August, it could be July, could be longer than that,” Trump said, referring to answers he has gotten when consulting public health officials on the timeline.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, clarified after Trump’s remarks that the guidelines would not necessarily last until the summer months but rather that timeline was one potential trajectory of the coronavirus outbreak.
“The guidelines are a 15-day trial guideline to be reconsidering,” Fauci said, according to The Hill. “It isn’t that these guidelines are going to be in effect until July. What the president was saying is that the trajectory of the outbreak may go until then.”
Monday’s guidelines are the latest steps taken by the administration to fight coronavirus. On Friday, Trump declared a national emergency to help handle the growing outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
The action helps $50 billion flow to states fighting to contain the spread of the virus, which has infected almost 1,700 people.
Two days earlier he announced that the US would be suspending all travel from Europe. While Britain was initially not included in that directive, it was later added to the list of European countries from which travel was suspended.
In his remarks on Monday, Trump said he wasn’t considering a nationwide lockdown, but that “certain areas” of the country with large numbers of cases could take such measures.
“At this point, not nationwide,” the president said. “We may look at certain areas, certain hotspots as they call them.”
A number of state and local officials have already ordered closures of restaurants, bars, schools and other public places in order to mitigate the spread of the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Sunday evening also recommended that Americans cancel gatherings of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks.