White House Listens to Disease Experts, Extends Social Distancing Order
WASHINGTON – Presidential Donald Trump announced Sunday that federal social distancing guidelines that were set to expire March 30 will be extended another month, this after aggressive lobbying by his coronavirus task force.
In recent days President Trump has repeatedly said the time has come to restart the U.S. economy.
“We can’t have the cure be worse than the problem,” Trump told reporters at a briefing last Monday. “We have to open our country because that causes problems that, in my opinion, could be far bigger problems.”
By the end of the week, he was pushing for America to return to a semblance of normalcy by Easter Sunday.
But in a Rose Garden briefing Sunday, Trump reversed course, saying that it was “too soon” to roll back the voluntary social distancing guidelines put in place 15 days ago.
Instead of striking the guidance, Trump told the country to stick with the plan for another month, until April 30.
“The better you do, the faster this whole nightmare will end,” he said.
The change came after intensive lobbying by the members of the White House coronavirus task force, and particularly Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert.
During a meeting over the weekend, Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, reportedly ran through several models for the president, one of which showed that if the White House went ahead and jump-started the economy, the potential U.S. death toll from the pandemic could top 2.2 million.
By contrast, Fauci said, staying the course would keep the national death toll closer to 100,000 to 200,000.
In an appearance on CNN’s “New Day” program Monday, Fauci said the task force believes prematurely pulling back the guidance “would only form an acceleration or rebound of something, which would put you behind where you were before.”
“We feel that the mitigation that we’re doing right now is having an effect,” Fauci said.
Trump responded on Twitter: “We’re all in this together. I’ve never seen anything like it.”