Trump Walks Back Remarks on Reopening U.S. by Easter, Extends Social Distancing Guidelines to April 30

Robyn Merrett

President Donald Trump has extended social distancing guidelines to April 30 to “slow the spread” of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The modeling estimates that the peak in death rate is likely to hit in two weeks. I will say it again. The peak, the highest point of death rates, remember this, is likely to hit in two weeks,” he said during Sunday’s press briefing.

“Therefore, we will be extending our guidelines to April 30 to slow the spread,” Trump, 73, said.

The president had previously expressed a desire to reopen the country by Easter. However, he told reporters on Sunday, “it was just an aspiration,” adding that he hopes the country will “be well on our way to recovery” by June 1.

Also during the briefing, PBS News Hour‘s Yamiche Alcindor asked Trump about his recent comment regarding filling federal orders for medical equipment. “Be nice. Don’t be threatening,” he said in response to Alcindor, who accurately recited the president’s quotes from a recent Sean Hannity interview about New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s need for more ventilators to aid victims of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hours prior, White House health adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said the U.S. could see up to 200,000 deaths due to coronavirus and millions of infections.

In light of Trump’s remarks, his administration’s health officials said last week that there needs to be “flexibility” with that target date because they are not certain it’s safe for any part of America to return to business as usual.

“What we don’t have right now that we really do need is we need to know what’s going on in those areas of the country where there isn’t an obvious outbreak,” Fauci told reporters last Tuesday.

RELATED: A Restless President Trump Hopes the Country Can Go Back to Normal by Easter — as Health Experts Urge Caution

In Trump’s appearance on both the network’s coronavirus virtual town hall and elsewhere last week, he openly waffled between what he felt was best for the economy — parts of which have ground to a halt, stranding more than a million workers and undercutting an argument Trump sees as key to his re-election — and what was best for the health of the nation.

As of March 29, there are now at least 123,617 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S., the most worldwide.

At least 2,133 people in the U.S. have died from coronavirus-related illness.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.