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President Trump briefing on coronavirus

President Trump Extends Timeline for Social Distancing

Gettyimages | Drew Angerer
By Robin Zabiegalski

At Sunday's coronavirus daily press briefing, President Trump announced that he would be extending the timeline for the federal social distancing guidelines. After saying last week that he wanted the country to be back to normal by Easter, Trump said Sunday that social distancing should remain in place through April 30th.

President Trump also said that new cases of coronavirus were expected to peak within the next few weeks and that he hoped the country would be on the road to recovery by June.

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A Huge Shift in Messaging

President Trump briefing on coronavirus
Gettyimages | JIM WATSON

The announcement was a huge shift from Trump's messaging about the country's approach to coronavirus last week. Early last week, Trump said he believed the country needed to reopen for business as soon as possible so the economy could recover.

As experts and health officials protested, Trump shifted his message, saying that he would be consulting the appropriate health officials. Late last week, Trump announced to U.S. governors that he was working on a plan to identify lower-risk counties that could potentially relax social distancing guidelines earlier than the rest of the country.

Adhering to Recommendations

President Donald Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci

The huge shift in messaging from the President seems to indicate that he has been consulting with leading medical experts and health officials about reassessing the guidelines. Experts, health officials, and medical professionals all stressed that relaxing social distancing guidelines too soon could lead to a catastrophic death toll.

It seems that President Trump is now listening to these professionals and adjusting the federal guidelines accordingly. In his briefing, he admitted that his Easter timeline was too optimistic and stressed that public health was more important than the economy.

A Grim Forecast

Dr. Anthony Fauci being interviewed about coronavirus
Gettyimages | NBC NewsWire

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has become the face of the Trump administration's coronavirus response. He's been by Trump's side at most of the press briefings, giving the medical perspective on the pandemic and the CDC's recommendations.

On Sunday, Dr. Fauci gave a bleak forecast for the outcome of the pandemic in the United States. Dr. Fauci predicted that the death toll could be as high as 200,000, even if social distancing recommendations are closely followed.

Will Trump Institute a National Lockdown?

President Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence briefing on coronavirus
Gettyimages | Win McNamee

Though extending the federal guidelines for social distancing through April 30th is a good step toward slowing the pandemic, several experts and health officials have suggested that guidelines won't get the job done. Many have called for Trump to issue a nationwide two-week lockdown.

New polls show that Americans support a national lockdown as well. 40% of respondents said that they believe the President should institute a national lockdown.

However, the President has repeatedly said that he's opposed to a national lockdown. He may change his tune if the pandemic continues to spread because people aren't adhering to social distancing guidelines.

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