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Donald Trump extends social-distancing guidelines with US deaths expected to peak in two weeks

US President Donald Trump abruptly abandoned his ambition to return American life to normal by Easter, heeding advice from the government’s top doctors that re-opening the US economy in two weeks risks greater death as the coronavirus outbreak accelerates.

In a stark shift from two weeks of measured optimism, the President said his guidelines for Americans to practice “social distancing” would remain in place until at least April 30, and he warned that 100,000 or more people may die.

He said in a Rose Garden news conference that he hoped the country would reach “the bottom of the hill” by June 1 – “could even be sooner, could be a little bit later.”

Mr Trump’s about-face came after his top medical advisers – Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Deborah Birx, the State Department immunologist advising Vice President Mike Pence – presented alarming new projections that millions of Americans may wind up infected. Mr Fauci said earlier on CNN that as many as 200,000 Americans might die if efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus aren’t successful.

“The number I gave out is, you know, based on modeling,” Mr Fauci said at Sunday’s news conference. “And I think 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. What we’re trying to do is not let that happen.”

Before Sunday, Mr Trump had publicly envisioned “packed churches” on Easter Sunday, April 12, and both he and Mr Fauci had suggested parts of the country might return to business even as New York, Louisiana, Florida, Michigan and other states battle outbreaks. Those aspirations appear to have evaporated.

“Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won,” Mr Trump said on Sunday. He said that instead of Americans returning to work, the administration now expects US deaths from coronavirus to peak at about Easter. “It should start coming down and hopefully very substantially from that point,” he said.

There have been more than 142,000 cases of the disease in the US by Sunday and more than 2,400 Americans have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Source: Telegraph UK

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