Trump extends social distancing days after calling for 'packed' churches on Easter

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Trump finally caved to experts after saying for days that the crisis would soon be over and the country should be 'raring to go by Easter.'

Donald Trump extended social distancing guidelines this weekend until at least May, less than a week after saying he thought the nation would be "opened up and just raring to go by Easter."

During a Monday morning appearance on Fox News, he said Easter would very likely be the peak of this outbreak, contradicting his earlier claims that the crisis should be done by then.

"We’re doing a lot of things and we don’t want to [end social distancing measures] too soon," Trump told the network. "Around Easter, that's going to be the highest point, we think." He added that he thinks April 30 "is a day where we can see some real progress" and that by June, the death toll will "will be brought to a very low number."

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Despite expert warnings, Trump laid out what he called a "beautiful timeline" last Tuesday, urging that the nation be "opened up and just raring to go by Easter." Citing his "very special" relationship with the April 12 holiday, he said, "Wouldn't it be great to have all the churches full? You'll have packed churches all over our country."

But Trump's own medical experts quickly pushed back against this dangerous proposal. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Friday that some states would still be dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in September.

"Everyone's timeline is going to be different. Some places haven't hit their peak yet," he told ABC. "'We're trying to give people the testing data to make informed choices. It doesn't matter if it's Easter, Memorial Day, or Labor Day."

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN Thursday that Trump's Easter timeline was "an aspirational projection to give people some hope" but that with the number of cases increasing dramatically each day, it was "no time to pull back."

"You don’t make the timeline. The virus makes the timeline," he added.

As recently as Wednesday, Trump was attacking his critics for doubting his everything-will-be-fine-soon timeline. "The LameStream Media is the dominant force in trying to get me to keep our Country closed as long as possible in the hope that it will be detrimental to my election success," he tweeted. "The real people want to get back to work ASAP. We will be stronger than ever before!"

A poll last week showed that the vast majority of Americans did not want to end social distancing until it is safe to do so: 81% said social distancing should continue "for as long as is needed, even if it means continued damage to the economy." Just 10% said the economy was a greater priority.

As of Monday, Trump administration officials were predicting the COVID-19 outbreak could mean more than 200,000 deaths in the United States. Just one month ago, Trump claimed that the number of cases in the United States would soon be "close to zero."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.