During a White House briefing, Trump was asked whether the administration had an estimate of how quickly the country would “turn this corner.” Many Americans have been working from home, and states are increasingly closing schools, businesses and prohibiting large gatherings of people.
“People are talking about July, August – or something like that,” Trump told reporters, who were spaced in every other seat in the White House briefing room to practice distancing.
The president did not discuss specific practices that would have to be implemented for that long, but the question was posed in terms of the steps that the country is currently taking.
Trump's remarks came as his administration issued new guidelines for Americans to follow over the next 15 days to help avoid the spread of the coronavirus. The administration did not take drastic actions, such as restricting domestic travel or imposing a national quarantine or curfew.
The new guidelines call on Americans to avoid social gatherings involving groups of 10 or more. Health officials had previously suggested avoiding groups of 50 or more people.
"We've made the decision to further toughen the guidelines and blunt the infection now," Trump said. "We'd much rather be ahead of the curve than behind it."
The guidelines also call for governors in states with evidence of community transmission to close schools in affected and surrounding areas. Bars, restaurants, food courts, gyms and other venues where groups of people congregate should also be closed in states with evidence of community transmission, the guidelines say.
Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of Trump's task force, emphasized health officials "really want people to be separated right now."
Among the other guidelines:
- If someone in your house has testified positive, keep the entire household at home. Do not go to work or school.
- If you are elderly, stay home and away from other people.
- If you have a serious underlying health condition, stay home and away from others.
- Avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips and social visits.
- Avoid eating or drinking in restaurants, bars and food courts. Use drive-through, pickup and delivery options.
- Do not visit nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance.
- Practice good hygiene such as washing your hands, especially after touching frequently used items or surfaces. Avoid touching your face.
"If everyone makes these critical changes and sacrifices now, we will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus,” Trump said.
Earlier Monday, the White House pushed back on news reports that it is considering imposing curfews and a national quarantine in the wake of the spread of the coronavirus epidemic.
"This is not correct," tweeted Katie Miller, a spokeswoman for Vice President Mike Pence, who is heading up the coronavirus task force.