Trump Urges Americans to Avoid Gatherings of More Than 10 People

U.S. health officials caution that the coronavirus pandemic may not be contained until late summer.

In his most direct appeal since the novel coronavirus outbreak began, President Trump urged Americans to heed the warnings of U.S. health officials and avoid all gatherings of more than 10 people to help curb the spread of the highly contagious respiratory infection.

Speaking from the White House on Monday, March 16, Trump pleaded with Americans to avoid congregating—not just in public places but also at home. He added that the COVID-19 crisis may not be under control until July or August or even later.

Trump asked people to specifically steer clear of bars, restaurants and food courts. He also said all non-essential travel should be avoided and children should be home schooled whenever possible.

“If everyone makes this change, or these critical changes and sacrifices now, we will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus,” Trump said in the White House briefing room. “We’re going to have a big celebration all together.”

The updated government guidelines also advise states that have community spread of COVID-19 to close bars, restaurants and other public places. This guidance is not a mandate, but several states and some cities—including California, Illinois, New York, Maryland, Philadelphia and San Francisco—have already issued orders for these establishments to close.

The bold move was fully supported by Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who says these measures are necessary to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

"It will always seem that the best way to address it would be to be doing something that looks like it might be an overreaction. It isn't an overreaction,” Fauci said at the White House news conference.

Why social distancing is essential
COVID-19 is a highly contagious viral respiratory infection that, like the flu, spreads from person to person through direct contact or droplet transmission.

So, one of the key steps that people can take to help curb the spread of COVID-19 is to practice social distancing, or “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet) from others when possible,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

These steps should be taken along with other preventive measures, including frequent hand washing, not touching your face with unwashed hands, staying home when sick, avoiding exposure to people who may be sick and covering coughs and sneezes.

Social distancing is not only intended to reduce the total number of people who become infected with COVID-19 but to also help slow its spread, which could ultimately save lives.

If hospitals and urgent care centers in the U.S. and other parts of the world become burdened with a high volume of patients, the care given to those with severe disease or complications may be compromised. There may be a shortage of essential medical supplies, ventilators and other life-saving equipment.

In short, social distancing can help slow the spread of the infection so that public officials and healthcare workers have time to respond effectively to the rapidly developing situation.

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