President Donald Trump has extended coronavirus health protection guidelines through to the end of April, as his administration is bracing for a death toll of between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths.
Trump administration officials raised the warnings during Sunday’s coronavirus press briefing at the White House Rose Garden, during which he also indicated he expects the country to be recovering from the outbreak by June.
“We can expect that, by June 1st, we will be well on our way to recovery. We think, by June 1st, a lot of great things will be happening,” Trump said.
The new expectations for the spread of the virus come one week after Trump indicated he would consider whether or not to continue social distancing guidance at the end of a 15 day national social distancing period. The initial social distancing period began on March 16 and was set to end on Tuesday, March 31. Trump previously raised an aspirational goal of seeing much of the country opened up by Easter Sunday, on April 12.
During a Monday morning interview with Fox & Friends, Trump said he based the decision on the guidance of members of his coronavirus team, including Dr. Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx. Based on their assessments, the peak of coronavirus cases is expected to be in about two weeks.
“We think April 30 is a day where we can see some real progress,” Trump said, “and we expect to see that, short of June 1, we think the death, it’s a terrible thing to say, will be brought to a very low number.”
Trump went on to say the country would be doing well if it was able to keep the death toll “down to 100,000.” He said, had the country not taken mitigation efforts early on, 2.2 million people could have died from the coronavirus.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said during the Sunday press briefing that the number of coronavirus deaths could reach 100,000 to 200,000 if further mitigation isn’t taken and the decision to extend social distancing guidelines until the end of April is part of the effort to avoid that many deaths.
As of Monday, the U.S. has recorded over 143,000 coronavirus cases, of which there have been over 2,500 fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins university’s coronavirus case tracking map.
Trump also said during the Fox & Friends interview that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was making progress on approving an immunity test to determine who may have had coronavirus and developed an immunity to it.
“We’re very close,” Trump said. “They’re refining the final steps and having some tremendous success.”
Trump also indicated progress on approving anti-malaria drugs like chloroquine as treatments for coronavirus and said that by the efforts the U.S. has already taken, the death toll for the country remains lower than other countries dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.