Trump says he may extend coronavirus social distancing guidelines to early summer
President Donald Trump said Thursday that his administration may extend its national social distancing guidelines until early in the summer or later.
“We may, and we may go beyond that,” Trump said at a White House press briefing when asked if the federal guidelines would need to be extended at least until the start of summer.
“We’re going to have to see where it is,” Trump said. “I think people are going to know just out of common sense. At some point, we won’t have to do that. But until we feel safe, we’re going to be extending.”
Trump’s remarks came a day after multiple White House acknowledged that the U.S. would likely still be dealing with the deadly coronavirus by the fall and winter, when the flu season kicks up.
The federal guidelines, which were first shared in mid-March and had already been extended once, were set to expire at the end of April.
The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for additional comment on the president’s remarks.
While the White House’s guidelines are not legally binding on states – many of which have implemented their own social distancing rules – they recommend severe restrictions on normal behaviors, such as eating out at restaurants and socializing in groups.
The news that the federal guidance might be extended again comes as Trump and state leaders more aggressively look ahead to “reopening” the economy, which has been devastated by the coronavirus and the harsh measures taken to contain it.
Trump had previously said he wanted to see “packed churches” on Easter Sunday – a comment that was met with a wave of criticism from health experts.
On April 16, the Trump administration released a new list of recommendations on how state leaders can begin the process of reopening their economies.
Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday that 16 states have released “formal reopening plans” to lift their coronavirus restrictions.
William Bryan, an official with the Science and Technology division of the Department of Homeland Security, also said at the briefing that recent findings suggest increased exposure to sunlight, heat and humidity have a “powerful effect” on killing the virus.
“The virus is dying at a much more rapid pace just from exposure to higher temperatures and just from exposure to humidity,” Bryan said.