White House Says Hunker Down Through April 30, Here’s Why!
White House Says Hunker Down Through April 30
WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) — The federal guidelines to slow the spread of the coronavirus initially set to expire Monday will be effective for another month, President Donald Trump announced Sunday.
“We will be extending our guidelines to April 30th to slow the spread,” Trump said at a White House press briefing. “We can expect that by June 1st we will be well on our way to recovery.”
The extension raised immediate questions about how the country will keep going for another month or more given the current trajectory.
In the two weeks that the social distancing measures have been in place, the U.S. economy has virtually ground to a halt. More than 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance last week. The Federal Reserve estimated unemployment could hit 32% and gross domestic product could contract by 50% in the coming months as a result of the outbreak.
Something worse than widespread economic hardship prompted the president to keep the country closed for another four weeks.
Without keeping in place social distancing and other measures to limit the spread of the virus, millions of Americans could be infected and as many as 100,000 to 200,000 lives could be lost in the course of the pandemic, warned Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert.
“It’s entirely conceivable that, if we do not mitigate to the extent that we’re trying to do, that you could reach that number,” Fauci said Sunday. Keeping federal guidelines in place through April was a “wise and prudent decision,” he noted.
President Trump had previously aimed to restart parts of the economy by Easter and warned that the cure “can’t be worse than the problem,” in reference to the economy. Ultimately, Trump heeded the advice of the scientists and public health officials who warned that reopening the economy too soon could lead to waves of new infections that would be more damaging in the long-term.
Acknowledging the reality of economic suffering, Dr. Fauci explained Monday that it was “patently obvious” from the data that “if we try to push back prematurely, not only would we lose lives, but it probably would even hurt the economy. So, you would lose on double accounts.”
MODELS: SOCIAL DISTANCING WILL MEAN FEWER DEATHS
The White House plans to release a more comprehensive strategy Tuesday on slowing the spread of the virus. The original White House advisory recommended the following:
- Non-essential workers should work from home.
- Students should engage in remote learning.
- Avoid social gatherings of more than ten people.
- Avoid going out to restaurants, bars.
- Avoid unnecessary travel and social visits.
- Limit shopping trips to necessities.
- Avoid nursing homes and long-term care facilities unless providing critical assistance.
- Practice good hygiene–wash hands, avoid touching your face, sneeze or cough into a tissue or your elbow, disinfect frequently used items and surfaces.
The majority of states have enacted stricter measures. About 250 million Americans across 30 states and Puerto Rico are currently under stay-at-home orders.
Almost every state has closed schools. All non-essential businesses have been ordered to close their doors in at least 26 states and 44 have closed all restaurants and bars for everything but takeout, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
In addition to federal recommendations, it will be critical to get all the states to implement stay-at-home orders, explained Anand Parekh, chief medical adviser at the Bipartisan Policy Center.
“The most important thing the White House needs to do today is to get on the phone with all the governors who have not issued a stay-at-home order to get them to do it in the next 24 to 48 hours,” Parekh said. “Because the models the White House cited that show 100,000 Americans dying, presuppose that all the governors will have a stay at home order.”
One of the models the White House cited was developed by Dr. Christopher Murray, Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine. It estimated 81,000 deaths in the United States if proper mitigation efforts were put in place and kept in place.
“The trajectory of the pandemic will change – and dramatically for the worse – if people ease up on social distancing or relax with other precautions,” said Dr. Murray.
The IHME model predicted a range of fatalities climbing as high as 162,000 over four months under the ideal conditions that Americans in all states enact social distancing.
The outlook is far rosier than the worst-case scenario published earlier this month by epidemiologists at the Imperial College of London suggesting COVID-19 could kill up to 2.2 Americans if nothing was done to mitigate the spread of the disease.
The IMHE projection indicates the worst of the pandemic will hit in the next two weeks. At that peak, hospitals around the country will likely face a 61,500-bed shortage and demand for ventilators could hit 43,000.
The model predicts more than 2,300 deaths per day by mid-April. As the worst of the effects pass, deaths and new hospitalizations are expected to stabilize and taper off by June 1.