White House says to avoid gatherings of 10 or more, Trump suggests US coronavirus pandemic could last until August

Darrell Etherington

The White House held another press briefing on Monday to provide an update on its response to the continued coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. President Trump opened by identifying new guidelines in place to mitigate and slow the spread of COVID-19. These include advice to begin homeschooling kids wherever possible, as well as avoiding gathering in groups of more than 10 people. The administration is also advising avoiding discretionary travel, as well as eating at bars, restaurants and food courts.

These measures, arrived at by Trump's coronavirus task force, are meant to apply for at least the next 15 days -- though in response to a question from the press corps about how long the president imagines the coronavirus situation lasting, he suggested that it could last until "July or August" or "even longer." That's a very different tune from when, at a campaign rally in late February, he referred to the coronavirus as a "hoax" employed by the Democrats.

The recommendations also clarify that not only should individuals stay away from bars and restaurants (and to use drive-through, pick-up or delivery instead), in states where there is evidence of COVID-19 transmission, they further recommend that restaurants and bars actually be closed by their owners and operators. These guidelines also say that anyone who feels sick should stay home and contact their medical provider, and that when one member of a household has tested positive, the entire household should quarantine at home to prevent transmission.

Additional guidelines include the existing advice for washing hands, "especially after touching any frequently used item or surface;" avoiding touching your face; sneezing or coughing into a tissue or your elbow; and disinfecting items and surfaces that you use frequently.

Physician and coronavirus task force member Dr. Deborah Birx said it is "the millennials that are going to lead us through this," in her remarks, noting that they're relying on young people to follow this advice especially in order to avoid transmission to more vulnerable members of the population.

Vice President Mike Pence said that "this guidance for the next 15 days is what our experts say is the best opportunity we have to lower the infection rate over the entire course of the coronavirus."