The U.S. is about to get hit by a big tidal wave known as the coronavirus.
President Trump on Monday said new guidelines will further restrict movement for many Americans. But more important, the COVID-19 outbreak isn’t going to go away anytime soon.
Based on current data modeling, “July or August is when” the coronavirus outbreak “washes through” the U.S., said Trump, who didn’t rule out the possibility that the health emergency could last even longer. When youngest son Barron asked about the pandemic, Trump responded with, “It’s bad. It’s bad.”
The new guidelines call for gatherings to be capped at a maximum of 10 people, and instruct people not to eat in public food courts. Parents are asked to home school their kids. Health officials hope that several weeks of drastic measures will mitigate the spread of the virus.
While the U.S. is considering more aggressive steps in containment, there’s no current plan for a national quarantine, Trump said, noting that people are electing to automatically partake in social distancing. “People are self-containing. We look forward to the day when we can return to normal,” he said.
Trump also avoided talk of a possible recession. “It may be,” he said, adding that he expects a “tremendous surge,” once the virus subsides and normal activity resumes.
“My focus is getting rid of this virus problem,” Trump said. “Once we do this, everything will get into place…. Best thing we can do for the stock market right now is to get rid of this thing.”
The stock market has suffered extreme volatility in recent weeks as investors reacted to increasingly alarming headlines churning through a rapidly accelerating coronavirus news cycle. On Monday, those losses grew wider as the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 2,997 points. The historic, nearly 3,000-point plunge mark its worst drop in the three decades since the crash in 1987 and its second-worst day in its 124-year history.
So far the impact has been felt keenly by the airline industry, transportation and other sectors. But Trump stressed that the federal government will provide backing to airlines, adding that the sudden drop in demand is “not their fault.”
Because millennials remain “out and about” more so than other demographics, they were singled out as the best group to help curtail the spread of the coronavirus, said Dr. Deborah Birx, the newly named White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator.
Millennials should restrict their gatherings, even in a home setting, to no more than 10 people, she said. Even asymptomatic people who aren’t visibly ill are capable of spreading the novel coronavirus.
“The only thing we have right now is the amazing ingenuity of the American people,” Dr. Birx said.
And National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci explained why the tighter restrictions on movement have been put in place, emphasizing that they are well thought out and must be taken seriously.
“When you’re dealing with an emerging infectious diseases outbreak, you are always behind where you think you are… The best way to deal it may feel like an over-reaction, but it’s where you need to be,” Dr. Fauci said.
A potential vaccine for the coronavirus began human testing on Monday, Dr. Fauci said, and the initial participant is in the Seattle area, the epicenter for the first U.S. outbreak. But he also cautioned that even with testing underway, a vaccine is still about 12 months out, presuming the trials are a success.
Many believe the numbers are already higher than reported, due to the scarcity of testing for the coronavirus in the U.S.
Earlier Monday, New York governor Andrew Cuomo issued dire warnings, noting that 17 percent of those infected in New York require hospitalization. Cuomo also said he didn’t think the federal government was doing enough in response to the U.S. pandemic.
“I want federal action. You can’t have one state taking actions that are different from other states,” Cuomo said. “This is a national pandemic, and there are no national rules.”
The New York governor called for the deployment of the Army Corps of Engineers to work with states on assembling temporary facilities, essentially retrofitting state buildings as makeshift facilities to provide medical care. He expects that 40 percent to 80 percent of New Yorkers could become infected by the virus.
In the mid-morning lead up to Trump’s press briefing, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut instituted bans on dining in restaurants and limited events to less than 50 people. States and local governments have begun acting on their own–and with each other, absent what they perceive as a lack of national leadership–to initiate even stricter guidelines as they try to get ahead of the virus.
Also Monday, San Francisco called for people to “shelter in place” and remain at home as of midnight local time Tuesday, exempting trips out to purchase essentials like food or medicine. And New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday closed restaurants and bars for in-house dining, allowed eateries to remain open for takeout and deliveries. And 33 states have closed their public school systems, including the nation’s largest in New York City/
Elsewhere globally, Canada shuts it borders to restrict entry of most non-residents into the country, while United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the British people to cease non-essential contact with other people as a means of limiting the outbreak’s spread.