Donald Trump May Extend Coronavirus Social Distancing Guidelines for US Until Early Summer

President Donald Trump hinted at extending the administration's social distancing guidelines to the summer, even as some state governments begin looking into reopening their local economies. The White House first shared social distancing guidelines in mid-March, and they were already extended to the end of April. During a previous press briefing, the White House admitted the country could still be fighting the coronavirus into the winter, when flu season begins.

"We may, and we may go beyond that," Trump told reporters at Thursday's press briefing, reports CNBC. "We're going to have to see where [the coronavirus] is... I think people are going to know just out of common sense. At some point, we won't have to do that. But until we feel safe, we're going to be extending."

Before Trump's remarks, Bill Bryan, head of the science and technology directorate at the Department of Homeland Security, gave a presentation on weather's impact on the virus, reports Newsweek. He mentioned sunlight could kill the virus, but said it was "irresponsible" to say the warm summer weather would completely stop the coronavirus. Bryan said it would be best to keep following the social distancing guidelines into the summer. "I would not go contrary to the guidance that has been issued right now," he said. "I think though to tell you if I'm having an event with my family, I'm doing it in the driveway or the back yard, not inside the house."

On Wednesday, CDC director Robert Redfield said the country will be fighting "two viruses" at the same time later this year during the flu season. "Next fall and winter, we’re going to have two viruses circulating and we're going to have to distinguish between which is flu and which is the coronavirus," he said, clarifying that he could not say if the coronavirus would be "worse" in the winter.

The Trump administration's social distancing guidelines are not legally binding for states and some have issued their own guidelines. The White House's guideines suggest people stay home if they feel sick, keep children home if they are sick and keep everyone at home if someone in the household tested positive for the coronavirus. Older people and those with underlying health conditions are also asked to stay home. On April 17, the White House also issued "Opening Up America Again" guidelines for states to follow if the number of coronavirus cases begin to slow or decrease.

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Trump was criticized after Thursday's press conference for a controversial moment when he suggested testing disinfectants as a treatment for the virus, even though ingesting any kind of disinfectant is deadly. "And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?" Trump said. "Because you see it gets on the lungs, and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it'd be interesting to check that. So that you're going to have to use medical doctors, but it sounds — it sounds interesting to me."

As of Thursday night, there are more than 2.7 million coronavirus cases in the world, including over 868,000 in the U.S. alone. There have been more than 49,800 total deaths, including over 16,000 in New York City alone. Over 4.6 million tests have been conducted in the U.S., reports Johns Hopkins University.