Government response updates: Coronavirus task force briefs as new 15-day guidelines take effect

(WASHINGTON) — New, stricter nationwide guidelines prompted much of America to shut down Tuesday morning after President Donald Trump and the coronavirus task force issued the 15-day rules in an effort to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The guidelines say, in part, that states with evidence of community transmission should close bars, restaurants and other indoor and outdoor venues where groups of people congregate.

They also call on all Americans to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people; avoid eating and drinking in bars, restaurants, and public food courts; and encouraging schooling from home across the country.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci said the next 15 days will be critical to blunting the spread of the virus, calling on the “whole country” to “cooperate and collaborate,” saying, “they will fail if people don’t adhere to them.”

Although the guidelines are in place for 15 days, when Trump was asked “how long all of this might last,” he pointed to summer.

“People are talking about July, August, something like that,” he said, adding that he likes to say it “washes through” but “other people don’t like that term.”

Here is how developments are unfolding. All times Eastern. Please refresh for updates.

New report that makes deadly prediction has impact on White House

Amb. Deborah Birx, the White House’s point person on the coronavirus, appeared to refer to an Imperial College London report in the briefing, which warns that, without action to slow the spread, up to 2.2 million Americans could die from the coronavirus, a connection first reported in the New York Times.

“We had new information coming out from a model, and what had the biggest impact in the model is social distancing, small groups, not going in public in large groups,” Birx said, which may explain the president’s more somber tone at Monday’s briefing.

This, as questions around testing still remain, with ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jen Ashton, noting, “We need to know the average age, what pre-existing medical conditions, how many are serious and how many are critical. And we have not seen that data yet.”

White House to ask Congress for $850 billion stimulus package

As Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin — the White House’s point person on negotiations — headed back to the Hill Tuesday, the Trump administration is expected to ask Congress for $850 billion in a round three of its economic stimulus package.

The White House is framing this as a “tax proposal” rather than straight “spending stimulus,” something an official argued to ABC News sets it apart from the $750 billion aid package Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is set to propose Tuesday.

Here’s the rough breakdown of the White House proposal: $500 billion of the White House proposal would come from the president’s payroll tax cut proposal, $50 billion would be for the airline industry and $250 billion would be for small business loans.

The White House announcement came after the stock market plunged nearly 3,000 points Monday, its worst day since 1987, but was up some 400 points Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, a revised version of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act heads to the Senate Tuesday, with the goal of providing economic relief amid the outbreak — but after already tweeting his full support for the House bill, Trump told reporters on Monday that he now supports making changes.

Trump attacks two governors on Twitter

Trump tweeted out the hashtag #KILLTHEVIRUS this morning as he professed strong cooperation between the federal and state governments — yet minutes prior he called out “failing Michigan governor” Gretchen Whitmer, saying she must be “more proactive.”

This presidential attack comes after Gov. Whitmer, a Democrat, criticized the federal government’s response and also after the president’s call with governors Monday, during which he directed them to try to obtain ventilators on their own.

Whitmer isn’t the only state governor who has come under attack from the president.

He has also fired off tweets at New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in recent days, as Cuomo has also leveled criticism against the president, both saying the other needs to “do more.”

Following another tiff on Twitter Monday, Trump tweeted at the New York Governor this morning, again calling COVID-19 “the Chinese virus,” and telling Cuomo to “keep politics out” of the nation’s coronavirus response.

The World Health Organization has denounced the term and has noted Europe is the new epicenter of the virus.

China’s Foreign Ministry says calling coronavirus the “Chinese Virus” is a “smear”

China Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang, not mentioning Trump by name, called a tweet by the president overnight “a smear.”

“Some politicians in the U.S. associated the coronavirus with China, and smeared China. China expresses its strong anger and opposition to that,” Shuang said on Tuesday.

“We call on the U.S. to stop finger pointing at China. The utmost priority is for the international community to cooperate on fighting the virus. The U.S. should focus on its top priority, and play a constructive role in international cooperation on health security.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have also called COVID-19 the “Wuhan Virus.”

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