The US coronavirus emergency could last until the end of the summer or even longer, President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House on March 16.
The US has so far had 4,100 cases of the virus and 71 deaths.
The president said over the next 15 days, Americans should not gather in groups of more than 10 people and avoid bars, restaurants, food courts and crowds.
Donald Trump said the US is facing “an invisible enemy” that is “so contagious”.
According to a tally from Johns Hopkins University, there have been more than 174,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus globally and over 6,700 deaths.
Under the US coronavirus task force’s new guidelines, President Trump urged all older Americans to stay home.
Work and schooling should be at home.
Discretionary travel, shopping trips and social visits should be avoided.
Anyone in a household who tests positive for the virus should stay at home along with everyone who lives there.
Asked how long the emergency will last, President Trump said: “People are talking about July, August, something like that, so it could be right in that period of time where I say, it washes through.”
The president continued: “They think August, could be July, could be longer than that.”
He said he was not considering a national curfew or lockdown, though added: “We may look at certain areas, certain hot spots as they call them.”
President Trump said he had not yet decided to close the US-Canada border, but told reporters it was something the administration was considering.
He also addressed issues of testing, as the US has been criticized for lagging far behind smaller countries in getting tests out to the states.
Officials said on March 16 that a million tests were currently available and more would be coming this week.
“A lot of testing has been going on,” President Trump said, though he also noted that those without symptoms should not get the test.
“Not everybody should run out and get the test, but we’re able to handle tremendous numbers.”
Health officials also said they are due to add 30 million masks to the US supply and are shipping out gear and health workers to bolster local testing efforts.
Asked how he would score his administration’s response to the crisis on a scale of one to 10, President Trump said: “I’d rate it a 10. I think we’ve done a great job.”
White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, who joined the president, issued an appeal directly to millennials, asking them to limit social contact.
She said: “They are the core people that will stop this virus.
“We really want people to be separated.”
Dr. Birx also warned against socializing even if people feel well.
She said: “We know that there is a large group of infected people who are asymptomatic, who continue to spread the virus.”
VP Mike Pence, who is leading the coronavirus taskforce, told reporters he had not been tested yet.
He said: “I’m in regular consultation with the White House physician and he said I’ve not been exposed to anyone for any period of time that has had the coronavirus and that my wife and I have had no symptoms.”