President Trump issued new guidelines Monday, urging Americans to avoid groups of more than 10 people for 15 days, saying it is essential to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“Each and every one of us has a critical role to play,” he said.
The guidelines are a companion to CDC guidelines issued one day earlier that recommend “mass gatherings” with 50 or more people be canceled or postponed for eight weeks. Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci of the Coronavirus Task Force said the “trajectory of the outbreak” may last until July, although the 10-persons guidelines will be revisited at the end of 15 days.
Together, the guidelines mean churches must find different and new ways to serve the community.
“It’s important for the young and healthy people to understand that while they may experience milder symptoms, they can easily spread this virus, and they will spread it indeed, putting countless others in harm’s way,” Trump said.
“We especially worry about our senior citizens,” he said.
The coronavirus is at least 10 times deadlier than the flu. For the elderly, the mortality rate is between 10 and 20 percent, according to data from around the world. There is no vaccine.
“We’ve always heard about the Greatest Generation,” said Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the White House coronavirus task force. “We’re protecting the Greatest Generation right now and the children of the Greatest Generation. And I think the millennials can help us tremendously.”
Said Trump, “If everyone makes ... these critical changes and sacrifices now, we will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus. With several weeks of focused action, we can turn the corner and turn it quickly.”
Trump suggested it is a “record-setting” contagion.
“We have an invisible enemy. … This is a very bad one,” he said. “It’s just so contagious.”
The president’s guidelines suggest:
- Work or engage in schooling from home whenever possible.
- If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, such as healthcare services and pharmaceutical and food supply, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule. You and your employers should follow CDC guidance to protect your health at work.
- Avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people.
- Avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts – use drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options.
- Avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips, and social visits.
- Do not visit nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance.
- Practice good hygiene: wash your hands, especially after touching any frequently used item or surface; avoid touching your face; sneeze or cough into a tissue, or the inside of your elbow; disinfect frequently used items and surfaces as much as possible.
As of Monday, the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. had multiplied 30-fold in just 11 days. U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said the nation was at a crossroads and either could go the way of Italy, which is on a nationwide lockdown and where hospitals are overrun, or the way of South Korea, which has the virus largely under control.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.