Trump backtracks on Easter deadline, extends COVID-19 measures through April

Washington DC/New York, Mar 29 (efe-epa).- The United States’ president backtracked Sunday on his intention to reopen the country’s economy Apr. 12 and extended measures to combat the coronavirus crisis until the end of next month.

Donald Trump said during a White House press conference that he did not want to deem the pandemic overcome ahead of time, announcing an extention to the guidelines through Apr. 30.

“Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won. That would be the greatest loss of all. The better you do, the faster this whole nightmare will end. Therefore, we will be extending our guidelines to Apr. 30, to slow the spread,” Trump said.

In recent days, the president had said he hoped to “open” the country by Easter and had hinted that his government could ease its guidelines to curb the pandemic “soon.”

Trump said the Apr. 12 deadline was not a mistake but “just an aspiration” and warned that coronavirus deaths in the US were likely to peak in two weeks.

However, he also said that he expected the country to be on its way to recovery by early June.

“We can expect that by June 1, we will be well on our way to recovery, we think by June 1. A lot of great things will be happening,” he said.

Trump said that in order to curb the health crisis, authorities Friday had approved a test developed by US pharmaceutical company Abbott that can deliver coronavirus results in less than 15 minutes.

Also, blood transfusion therapy, which involves giving plasma from someone who has recovered from COVID-19, is being tested on six patients.

Trump also said the government was looking at authorizing a project to sterilize masks, adding that there was a company capable of sterilizing the same mask up to 20 times and that efforts were being made to process the necessary permits to start this method as soon as possible.

The US president also announced a new initiative to create an “air bridge” with other countries to deliver material to New York, where he said an airplane carrying 2 million masks and medical gowns, over 10 million gloves and 70,000 thermometers had arrived Sunday morning at John F. Kennedy Airport.

According to Trump, about 51 such flights are expected.

Earlier Sunday, the US government’s top epidemiologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci said projections indicate that COVID-19 in the US could kill between 100,000 and 200,000 people or more in the coming months.

“Looking at what we’re seeing now, I would say between 100,000 and 200,000 (deaths), but I don’t want to be held to that,” Fauci told CNN, adding that those figures constitute a “moving target” that could change depending on social and ecological factors.

Fauci was present at Trump’s press conference, where he said that it was “entirely conceivable” that more than 1 million people in the US contract COVID-19, although he stressed that expanding government guidelines for social distancing until the end of April and the measures adopted could help avoid this from happening.

Some 2,467 had died from the coronavirus pandemic as of Sunday evening, according to Johns Hopkins University’s latest update.

On Friday, the US, which has the highest number of people known to be infected with the coronavirus, surpassed the 100,000 threshold, with the number reaching slightly more than 140,886 on Sunday. Italy ranks second with 97,689 patients and China follows with 82,122.

New York is the US state with the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases, with at least 60,000 infections – about half the US total – and 1,000 deaths, according to figures given Sunday by the state’s governor Andrew Cuomo.

Over the past 24 hours, positive coronavirus cases increased by 7,195, raising the cumulative total in New York to 59,513, while 965 people have died so far, 237 of them since Saturday, the highest daily figure so far.

The state is also carrying out the most number of tests, with more than 16,000 daily and a total of more than 172,000.

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