President Donald Trump is striking a different tone, urging Americans to take the threat of coronavirus seriously and begin social distancing.
Trump, speaking from the White House podium on Monday afternoon, appeared to be more serious and somber than other times during the coronavirus outbreak. He called on Americans to come together, said that there would be more pain to come and handed over several questions to the medical experts around him.
Just weeks after assuring Americans the virus was under control and only days after telling everyone to “just relax,” Trump painted a much darker picture on Monday.
“It’s not under control for any place in the world,” Trump said.
Pres Trump's tone about coronavirus has COMPLETELY changed today. He is saying this could last until July, August or longer, there may be a recession, outbreak is not under control, & US healthcare systems may not have resources needed to treat all Americans who may need help.— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) March 16, 2020
Trump also told reporters that Americans’ lives will be disrupted for far longer than many are expecting.
“If we do a really good job, we’ll not only hold the death down to a level that is much lower than the other way, had we not done a good job, but people are talking about July, August, something like that,” he said.
Unlike Sunday, when Trump was happily discussing the Federal Reserve cut to interest rates, the president did not strike an optimistic tone about the economy. Markets had halted trading for 15 minutes on Monday morning after stocks immediately fell 7%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2,997 points, 12.9%, on the day, the lowest index since May of 2017.
Asked if the economy could be sliding into a recession, Trump was candid.
“Well, it may be,” he said, adding, “We have an invisible enemy. We have a problem that, a month ago, nobody thought about. I’ve seen all of the other problems similar to the one we have. This one’s a bad one.”
During the press conference, the White House released new guidelines urging people to avoid groups of 10 or more and giving guidance on how to reduce the spread of the virus.
“Even if you are young, or otherwise healthy, you are at risk and your activities can increase the risk for others,” the handout read. “It is critical that you do your part to stop the spread of the coronavirus.”
As of Tuesday morning, there were roughly 183,441 confirmed cases of coronavirus globally and at least 7, 330 total deaths. The United States had at least 4,661 confirmed cases and 85 total deaths.