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Coronavirus government response updates: Trump extends guidelines through April

coronavirus-government-response-updates:-trump-extends-guidelines-through-april

The federal government has been rolling out its response to the novel coronavirus crisis, trying to slow the spread and prop up the economy, amid a volatile stock market and record unemployment numbers.

After suggesting over the past week that he would relax social distancing guidelines and reopen the country for business by Easter, President Donald Trump abruptly changed his messaging Sunday and announced an extension to the White House coronavirus guidelines through the month of April, adding that Americans can expect “great things” by June 1.

The extension came as the nation’s top health official, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warned that the COVID-19 outbreak is still on track to overwhelm hospitals and kill tens of thousands of Americans, even with action to slow the spread. He and the the White House task force coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, had told Trump that, even with mitigation efforts, models showed the death roll could reach 200,000.

Trump also said over the weekend that he will expand on his overall strategy moving forward on Tuesday, suggesting it could still include the county-by-county approach that he advocated for last week.

Tune into ABC at 1 p.m. ET and ABC News Live at 4 p.m. ET every weekday for special coverage of the novel coronavirus with the full ABC News team, including the latest news, context and analysis.

Here are Monday’s most significant developments in Washington:

  • Trump extends nationwide guidelines on social distancing through April 30, sharp reversal from his hope for “packed churches” on Easter
  • Fauci warns: “We will lose more people”
  • Mnuchin says it will take three weeks for relief checks to hit Americans’ pockets
  • A White House coronavirus task force meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m.
  • The FDA issues a limited emergency-use authorization for two antimalarial drugs to treat those infected with COVID-19
  • Here are the latest developments in the government response:

    Trump looks to ‘month of achievement’ as U.S. death toll soars

    As the nation prepares for another month of social distancing, economic hardship and the sobering reality that the U.S. death toll will climb by tens of thousands, President Trump told FOX News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” in a phone interview this morning that “it’s going to be a month of achievement.”

    First asked about potentially extending the federal recommendations past the end of April, as Fauci has signaled, Trump said, “I’ll use my head, and I’ll make a decision, but I rely on experts.”

    Trump doubled down on his belief that the federal government should only step in as a “backup,” even as governors around the country complain of the difficulty in obtaining medical supplies.

    “The states should be getting it. We should be a backup, and we’ve become not a backup, the opposite,” the president said of providing ventilators and other essential protective gear to states.

    When questioned about China, Russia and other nations engaging in disinformation campaigns to blame the virus on the U.S., Trump said, “They do it, we do it.”

    “We call them different things and I make statements that are very strong against China, including the Chinese Virus,” Trump said, after vowing last week to stop using the term denounced by the World Health Organization. “Every country does it, but they build it up, and we handle that, and they probably handle it but countries do that.”

    Trump also lashed out at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the almost hour-long phone interview, calling her a “sick puppy” and taking offense to her saying Sunday that Trump’s delay in responding to COVID-19 was “deadly.”

    “She’s a sick puppy. She’s got a lot of problems,” he said. “I think it’s a disgrace to her country, her family.”

    He said the federal government may “take over” her district in San Francisco, which he called a “slum.”

    When the Fox News’ hosts noted that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, had a very high approval rating in a new poll for how he’s handled the crisis, Trump appeared to take credit, saying, “one of the reasons his numbers are high on handling it is because of the federal government.”

    Trump again expressed opposition to actually using the Defense Production Act’s powers. Instead, he repeated that he prefers to use it as a negotiating tool — a threat he holds over companies as leverage.

    “I’ve been using it a lot to talk to people,” he said. “We don’t want to be nationalizing our country. We don’t want to be taking over. It’s a terrible symbol.”

    Trump also said his “next call” Monday morning was going to be with Russian President Vladimir Putin and that they’d be discussing energy and the coronavirus.

    Fauci says it’s possible guidelines will have to extend beyond April

    As the nationwide social distancing guidelines are extended, the U.S. can still expect to see more fatalities from the novel coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview on “Good Morning America.”

    “Even if these guidelines are extended, we will lose more people. Exactly how many more we would lose is uncertain, depending upon the efficiency of the mitigation methods,” he said.

    Echoing a comment he made on Sunday, Fauci added that, “April might do it” but it’s possible the guidelines will have to be extended even further.

    “To pull back the mitigation methods before you reach the peak and turned the corner I think really would have been imprudent because that would have merely regenerated the spike to go up,” Fauci said. “If we prematurely did it, it would likely rebound and that’s one thing you do not want to happen.”

    When asked about the clinical trials on potential therapeutics to treat COVID-19, Fauci said he hopes by late spring or early summer they’ll “get a signal in one of those drugs to see whether it works or not.”

    “And if it does, we’ll widely distribute it,” he added. “And if it doesn’t, we’ll just get it off the shelf, get it off the table, because it won’t be useable.”

    FDA gives anti-malaria drugs emergency approval to treat COVID-19

    The Food and Drug Administration has issued a limited emergency-use authorization for two antimalarial drugs to treat those infected with the novel coronavirus.

    In a statement released late Sunday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced it had received 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate and one million doses of chloroquine phosphate donated to a national stockpile of potentially life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies.

    The two oral prescription drugs are used primarily to prevent and treat malaria, but both are now being investigated as potential therapeutics for COVID-19.

    The statement noted that the FDA had issued an emergency-use authorization to allow both donated drugs “to be distributed and prescribed by doctors to hospitalized teen and adult patients with COVID-19, as appropriate, when a clinical trial is not available or feasible.”

    What to know about coronavirus:

  • How it started and how to protect yourself: coronavirus explained
  • What to do if you have symptoms: coronavirus symptoms
  • Tracking the spread in the US and Worldwide: coronavirus map
  • ABC News’ Ben Gittleson, Jordyn Phelps and Elizabeth Thomas contributed to this report.

    This report was featured in the Monday, March 30, 2020, episode of “Start Here,” ABC News’ daily news podcast.

    “Start Here” offers a straightforward look at the day’s top stories in 20 minutes. Listen for free every weekday on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, the ABC News app or wherever you get your podcasts.

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