The White House has extended its social distancing guidelines, urging Americans — and especially older adults — to stay home as much as possible and to avoid groups of more than 10 people through the end of April.
President Donald Trump made the announcement in the Rose Garden on Sunday, the eve of what officials had initially hoped would be the end of a 15-day plan aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus. But with the number of Americans infected by the virus topping 100,000 and experts warning that thousands more could die from the illness it causes, Trump backed off his hopes of opening the country up to business again by Easter.
"Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won. That would be the greatest loss of all,” he said at Sunday's news conference.
Normal life grinds to a halt
Since the White House first issued social distancing guidelines on March 16, normal life has come to an abrupt end in many communities across the country. Because the virus is thought to be transmitted through respiratory droplets passing between people who are in close contact, crowded public spaces, such as schools, shopping centers and museums, have closed down temporarily. Nursing homes have banned all visitors, and sports teams have postponed their seasons — all in an effort to slow the virus's spread.
They key to social distancing, experts say, is to keep hospitals from becoming overwhelmed by the number of people who get severely sick from COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus.