Trump to Americans: Avoid Gatherings of More Than 10 People

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images
President Donald Trump

The president and the White House task force released a new set of 15-day guidelines for Americans on Monday, with a louder plea for millennials to follow the social distancing plea.

President Donald Trump, accompanied by the White House coronavirus task force on Monday afternoon, released tougher guidelines for Americans to abide by in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus — a crisis that he called a "record-setting" type of contagion and one that could last through the height of the summer.

"It's important for the young and healthy people to understand that while they may experience milder symptoms, they can easily spread this virus and they will spread it indeed, putting countless others in harms way," said Trump, mentioning senior citizens. "Once we [get rid of this virus problem], everything else is going to fall into place."

The new 15-day guidelines that have been put together in response to the COVID-19 outbreak include recommendations that all Americans, including the young and healthy, avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people, engage in working and schooling from home when possible, avoid discretionary travel and avoid eating and drinking in bars, restaurants and public food courts.

"If everyone makes these critical changes and sacrifices now, we will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus," said Trump. When asked how long this will be the "new normal," the president said that July or August could be when the virus "washes through," though he added that it "could be longer than that."

The president also said that, "at this point," he was not considering a nationwide lockdown, despite mounting pressure and speculation. "We may look at certain areas, certain hotspots. But at this point, no, we're not," he said. "It's a step we can take, but at this point we have not decided to do it."

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, spoke directly to America's largest generation when she pleaded for millennials to follow the social distancing guidelines.

"They are the core group that will stop this virus," she said. "They are the group that communicates successfully, independent of picking up a phone. They intuitively know how to contact each other without being in large social gatherings. We're asking all of them to hold their gatherings to under 10 people."

Continued Birx, "Not just in bars and restaurants, but in homes. We really want people to be separated at this time to be able to address this virus comprehensively that we cannot see, for which we don't have a vaccine or a therapeutic. The only thing we have right now is the amazing ingenuity and compassion of the American people. We're appealing to all Americans to take these steps, to protect each other and to ensure that the virus doesn't spread."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — who has also suggested a 14-day national shutdown — detailed the reasoning behind the new guidelines. "Some may look at them and say, 'They're going to be really inconvenient.' Some will look at them and say, 'Well, maybe we've gone too far.' They were well thought-out," he explained. "When you're dealing with an emerging infectious diseases outbreak, you are always behind where you think you are if you think that today reflects where you really are. It will always seem that the best way to address it would to be doing something that looks like it might be an overreaction. It isn't an overreaction."

Reiterated Fauci of the new rules, "They will fail if people don't adhere to them."