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Trump tells public to avoid gatherings of 10+ people; says outbreak will last until July or August

President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence and members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, announces a national emergency to further combat the Coronavirus outbreak, at a news conference Friday, March 13, 2020, in the Rose Garden of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
March 16, 2020

President Donald Trump announced on Monday afternoon new federal guidelines for all Americans to follow in upcoming days to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“This afternoon we’re announcing new guidelines for every American to follow over the next 15 days as we combat the virus,” Trump said. “Each one of us has a critical role to play in stopping the spread and transmission of the virus.”

Among the guidelines are:

  • Avoid gatherings of more than 10 people
  • Conduct schooling at home
  • Avoid all non-essential travel
  • All household members should self-quarantine if one member tests positive.

The recommendations on gatherings of 10 people is a stark contrast from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendations just one day earlier, which recommended avoiding gatherings of 50 or more people.

“We had new information coming out from a model,” Ambassador Deborah Birx, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator explained of the new change. Federal health officials have been running routine models to help analyze outbreak patterns and determine responses.

“What had the biggest impact on the model was social distancing, small groups, not going in public in large groups,” Birx said. “The most important thing was if one person in the household became infected, the whole household self-quarantined for 14 days, because that stops 100 percent of the transmission outside of the household.”

Trump also said his administration expects the coronavirus outbreak to last several more months until July or August.

Closures and lockdowns are occurring rapidly across the U.S. as coronavirus cases multiply. According to John Hopkins, who has been tracking coronavirus cases globally, there are now 4,200 confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. as of Monday afternoon. At least 73 Americans have died from the virus, and 17 people have recovered from the virus.

After Trump’s national emergency declaration, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was able to carry out emergency use authorizations, granting major manufacturers Roche Diagnostics and Thermo Fisher the authorization to produce millions of coronavirus tests.

The federal government now has one million coronavirus tests available, and that number will expand rapidly by the end of the month.

“1.9 million of those tests will be sequentially into the ecosystem this week,” said Adm. Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “We expect more, and more than one million coming on board this week as the reagents come up.”

Two million tests are expected to be available next week, and five million the following week, Grioir said.