WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump has said federal coronavirus guidelines such as social distancing will be extended across the US until at least 30 April.
He had previously suggested that they could be relaxed as early as Easter, which falls in mid-April, reports BBC.“The highest point of the death rate is likely to hit in two weeks,” Trump said.
He appeared to be referring to peak infection rates that experts fear could overwhelm hospitals. White House medical adviser Dr Anthony Fauci had earlier warned that the virus could kill up to 200,000 Americans.
Dr Fauci said that it was “entirely conceivable” that millions of Americans could eventually be infected.
The US now has more than 140,000 confirmed cases.
As of Sunday evening, 2,493 deaths had been recorded in the country in relation to Covid-19, according to figures collated by Johns Hopkins University.
The US last week became the country with the most reported cases, ahead of Italy and China.Speaking during the latest Coronavirus Task Force press briefing at the White House on Sunday, the president said that measures such as social distancing were “the way you win”, adding that the US “will be well on our way to recovery” by June.
Suggesting that the “peak” of death rates in the US was likely to hit in two weeks, Trump said that “nothing would be worse than declaring victory before victory is won - that would be the greatest loss of all”.
Analysts suggest that when Trump referred to a peak in the “death rate”, he probably meant the total number of recorded infections.
He said the decision to extend social distancing was made after he heard that “2.2 million people could have died if we didn’t go through with all of this”, adding that if the death toll could be restricted to less than 100,000 “we all together have done a very good job”.
Trump had previously said that Easter - 10-13 April - would be a “beautiful time” to be able to open at least some sections of the country. On Sunday he said that lifting restrictions at Easter was “just an aspiration”.
“I wish we could have our old life back... but we’re working very hard, that’s all I know. I see things, I see numbers, they don’t matter to me. What matters to me is that we have a victory over this thing as soon as possible,” he said.