March 17, 2020

Trump says coronavirus upheaval could last beyond August
President unveiled aggressive new guidelines for the next 15 days in an effort to slow the spread of the virus * Coronavirus – latest updates * See all our coronavirus coverageSubdued into realism, Donald Trump has warned that social upheaval caused by the coronavirus outbreak could last beyond August.The US president, who previously claimed the virus would soon disappear “like a miracle”, struck a less bombastic tone on Monday and sought to manage expectations when asked how long “the new normal” will be in place.“We’ll see what happens but they think August, could be July,” Trump told reporters at the White House, “Could be longer than that.”He added: “I’ve spoken actually with my son. He said: ‘How bad is this?’ It’s bad. It’s bad.”On another day of nationwide upheaval and tumbling stocks, with US confirmed cases of coronavirus surpassing 4,000, Trump unveiled aggressive new guidelines for the next 15 days in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.He urged Americans to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people and said citizens should avoid discretionary travel and not go to bars, restaurants, food courts or gyms. Older people are asked to stay at home.The advice came after weeks of criticism that federal government inaction has created a vacuum, notably with lack of testing kits, forcing state and local leaders to step in by cancelling events and closing schools.“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.“If everyone makes these critical changes and sacrifices now, we will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus.”default In a tweet late on Monday, Trump joined other Republicans in labeling the Covid-19 “the Chinese virus”, an effort that has drawn widespread criticism for its stigmatizing of the country.The White House coronavirus taskforce pleaded with young people to follow the new guidelines even though they were at lesser risk of suffering if they contract the virus. Older people, especially those with underlying health problems, are at the greatest risk.Dr Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, told reporters: “If everybody in America does what we ask for over the next 15 days, we will see a dramatic difference.”If one person in a household becomes infected, the whole household should self-quarantine for 14 days, Birx added.As financial markets suffered their worst day since 1987, Trump acknowledged that a recession is possible but promised the economy will eventually rebound. Facing a tough re-election contest in November, Trump has long tied his own political fortunes to the stock market.Calling the virus an “invisible enemy”, he said: “We’re not thinking in terms of recession, we’re thinking in terms of the virus … The market will take care of itself.”He promised to “back the airlines 100%” but offered no details on support for the industry which has been hit suddenly and hard, especially by the US banning most travel from the UK and the EU.Trump denied that a nationwide curfew is under consideration and said he was not in favour of postponing the election. It should still be possible for G7 leaders to meet at the Camp David retreat in Maryland in June, he added.The US supreme court postponed oral arguments for the first time in more than a century; the last time was in 1918, due to the Spanish flu epidemic. On Capitol Hill, a nearly empty House of Representatives met to adopt a resolution to make what were described as technical changes to a coronavirus response measure. It will probably pass the Senate this week.Hospitals are bracing for an influx of coronavirus patients that could expose shortages of beds and equipment and leave them overwhelmed. Trump was criticised for again abandoning state governors when he reportedly told them to get their own ventilators for coronavirus sufferers during a conference call.“Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment – try getting it yourselves,” he told the governors, according to a recording obtained by the New York Times. “We will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves. Point of sales, much better, much more direct if you can get it yourself.”After the call, Trump painted a rosy picture but took a swipe at Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic governor of New York, where the president was born and built his business. He tweeted: “Just had a very good tele-conference with Nation’s Governors. Went very well. Cuomo of New York has to ‘do more’.”Cuomo, also on Twitter, snapped back: “I have to do more? No YOU have to do something! You’re supposed to be the President.”He added: “Happy to do your job, too. Just give me control of the Army Corps of Engineers and I’ll take it from there.”Earlier Cuomo had announced a regional agreement with New Jersey, New York and Connecticut to shut all cinemas, casinos and gyms as of 8pm. Restaurants and bars in the three states - home to more than 22 million – will serve takeout and delivery only.Trump was asked about the Twitter spat with Cuomo at Monday’s White House briefing. “I think he can do more,” he told reporters. “It’s an area of the country that’s very hot right now. New Rochelle, a place I know very well, I grew up right near New Rochelle. I think it’s an area that has to be tamped down even more cause it’s a hotbed, there’s no question about it,” he said, referring to a suburb of New York City that became a coronavirus cluster and was put under restrictions last week.Reporters at the briefing staggered their seating, sitting in every other seat in the White House briefing room, to follow social distancing recommendations.Although Trump’s tone had appreciably shifted, some of his more typical braggadocio style was still evident. One journalist asked him to give himself marks out of 10 for his response to the outbreak. “I’d rate it a 10,” Trump said. “I think we’ve done a great job.”
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