WASHINGTON — Abandoning his hope that the country could end its lockdown restrictions by Easter, which will be celebrated in two weeks, President Trump said on Sunday that intensive measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic would continue until the end of April.
“The modeling estimates that the peak in death rate is likely to hit in two weeks,” Trump said, referencing epidemiological models of how the disease will spread across the United States. “Therefore, we will be extending our guidelines to April 30 to slow the spread.”
The president added that on Tuesday, his administration would make public “a summary of our findings, supporting data and strategy” regarding the ongoing battle against the disease.
Trump announced the new policy at the daily coronavirus task force briefing, which was held in the Rose Garden on what turned out to be a pleasant spring evening in the nation’s capital. “Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won,” Trump said. As recently as last week, he signaled his impatience with the 15 Days to Slow the Spread guidelines that had been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Those guidelines call for Americans to work from home and avoid social situations, as well as unnecessary travel. While public health officials believe it is necessary to keep such measures in place for the next two or three months, some of the president’s advisers — and the president himself — worry about the economic effects of 328 million people living in lockdown.
In an interview with Fox News last week, Trump worried that the coronavirus response could be more harmful than the coronavirus itself, which has so far killed about 2,000 Americans. “I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” he said.
Easter falls on April 12 this year.
But Trump now appears to be taking the advice of experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who has expressed skepticism about the accelerated timeline.
Trump held out the possibility that those measures could continue into May. “We can expect that by June 1st, we will be well on our way to recovery, we think by June 1st.” He vowed that with the appropriate collective effort, “this whole nightmare will end” soon enough.