The White House says the next 15 days are going to be critical in trying to slow the spread of the coronavirus in America.
President Trump is urging Americans to stay away from each other as the government releases new guidelines aimed at trying to slow the spread of the virus. The broad measures that have already been implemented are drastically affecting US society and the economy.
"My administration is recommending that all Americans, including the young and healthy work to engage in schooling from home when possible, avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people, avoid discretionary travel, and avoid eating and drinking at bars, restaurants and public food courts," the president told reporters during a press briefing at the White House Monday.
Across the country, health officials are scrambling to bolster testing as concerns grow that a surge in viral cases could overwhelm the medical system.
In Virginia's Hampton Roads, area hospitals are increasing testing and gearing up for a potential influx of patients. Health officials are urging residents here to stay home and let the virus run its course.
"They don't necessarily need to come to the hospital," Paul Gaden, president of Sentara Princess Anne Hospital in Virginia Beach, Va., told CBN News. "Many of these patients will be able to stay home and care for themselves because at this time there is no treatment for COVID-19."
15 Days to Slow the Virus
Meanwhile, the nation's top infectious disease expert warns they have a 15-day window to slow the spread of the virus.
The message from the White House: pay attention to the new guidelines very carefully.
"We hope that the people of the United States will take them very seriously because they will fail if people don't adhere to them," warned Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Six counties in the San Francisco Bay are leading the way, declaring an unprecedented shelter-in-place mandate – 7 million people there are now ordered to stay home for the next 3 weeks.
"We need to anticipate spread but we also need to prioritize our focus," said Gov. Gavin Newsom of California.
In LA County, all bars, restaurants, gyms and other businesses are shut down. Grocery stores, banks and pharmacies will remain open.
It's a similar scene playing out in other states as folks line up outside stores for supplies.
"I think that's probably the best thing to do right now, considering that the numbers are spreading and the virus is spreading," said Oakland resident Katie Hara.
On Wall Street, investors are hoping the market will bounce back, after the Dow fell nearly 3,000 points Monday on fears that the virus will cause a recession – the biggest point drop in US history.
"We don't know exactly how pervasive it will be and we don't yet have an idea of how big an impact it will have on the economy this quarter, next quarter," Joel Griffith with the DC-based Heritage Foundation told CBN News.
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Congress is at work, expecting to pass a bill later today aimed at strengthening the social safety net for those affected by the outbreak. Up next, a bill aimed at bailing out businesses most affected by the shutdown that's likely to cost hundreds of billions of dollars.
The number of coronavirus cases in the US is now passing 4,600 with at least 86 fatalities. Health officials reported 18 deaths on Monday – the largest one-day increase since the onset of the outbreak.