Trump issued new guidelines during a press briefing on Monday, calling for Americans to avoid discretionary travel and gatherings of more than 10 people, as well as public spaces — including bars, restaurants, food courts and gyms — in order to curb the spread of the virus.
“They think August, it could be July,” he said. “Could be longer than that. But I’ve asked that question many, many times.”
He also urged Americans to work from home and homeschool children, if possible.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, clarified that the guidelines won’t be in effect until July, but that the “trajectory of the outbreak” could last until then. He said the guidelines are in place for at least 15 days.
“If everyone makes this change, or these critical changes and sacrifices now, we will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus,” Trump added. “We’re going to have a big celebration all together.”
Trump said he doesn’t have immediate plans to call for a nationwide quarantine.
“At this point, not nationwide,” he said. “We may look at certain areas, certain hot spots as they call them. We’ll be looking at that. But, at this moment, no we are not.”
Trump has been criticized for downplaying the severity of the crisis and for his slow response to the outbreak. Monday’s message marked a shift in tone as the president urged Americans to stick to the 15-day guideline.
“We’d much rather be ahead of the curve than behind it,” Trump said.
There are currently at least 3,400 confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. and 169,000 worldwide.