President Trump said a nationwide stay-at-home order, like the ones states have been implementing on their own, is "pretty unlikely" at this time. The possibility of such an order has been floated and discussed, but the president has been reluctant to impose such an extreme measure at this point. It's a step that has been taken by Italy, the country with the highest number of COVID-19 fatalities.
"Well we've talked about it, there are obviously there are some parts of the country that are in far deeper trouble than others," Mr. Trump said during Monday's Coronavirus Task Force briefing. He added that his administration would let people know if such a drastic step is to be taken, but he thinks it's "pretty unlikely."
On Monday, more states, including Maryland and Virginia, issued, with Virginia's slated to last until June 10th — far later than any state so far. The president said the U.S. is "sort of putting it all on the line this 30 days," after he extended his earlier April 12th target for getting the country back to work to April 30. Mr. Trump has been eager to get the economy back on track, but said he was persuaded to extend social distancing guidelines after public health experts presented him with models showing as many as 2 million Americans could die without mitigating action.
Mr. Trump had hoped that Americans would begin to resume their normal lives by Easter Sunday, but the presidenton Sunday that the date had been "aspirational." Instead, recommendations from the federal government for Americans to work from home, limit social gatherings to no more than 10 people and avoid travel will remain in place until April 30.
The president brought business leaders up to the podium, including My Pillow founder Mike Lindell, to share what they're doing to manufacture tens of thousands of N95 masks. Charlotte-based Honeywell is also opening facilities to produce.
Mr. Trump also revealed a new coronavirus testing system from Abbott Labs that he said would deliver coronavirus test results within five minutes, a significant breakthrough, as the U.S. endeavors to ramp up its testing.
The president has been saying the U.S. has tested more people than any other country, a significant milestone considering the U.S. has struggled with insufficient testing since the beginning of the outbreak. But that doesn't consider testing per capita, also a valuable metric in measuring testing. When a reporter pointed out that the U.S. per-capita testing hasn't reached the level of South Korea and asked when the U.S. would reach the same per-capita testing rate, the president reiterated that the U.S. has the most testing.
On Monday, the president and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the U.S. needs to be preparing for yet another cycle of the virus, perhaps in fall.
Fauci told CNN in an interview Monday that he and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, had approached Mr. Trump in the Oval Office with modeling showing the death toll from the coronavirus in the U.S. could be as high as 200,000 and "argued strongly" that the guidelines remain in place.
"We made it very clear to him that if we pulled back on what we were doing and didn't extend them, there would be more avoidable suffering and avoidable death," Fauci said. "It was a pretty clear decision on his part."
Mr. Trump also took a rare personal moment to share that many of his own friends have fallen ill from COVID-19, and one of those friends is in a coma.
There are more than 159,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.S., and more than 2,500 people have died from the deadly illness.