President Donald Trump and his top health officials warned Americans to brace for a “very painful” few weeks ahead as they delivered their projection Tuesday that between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans will die of the novel coronavirus, even if social distancing measures are strictly followed.
Far from the president’s vision just last week of “packed churches” on Easter, a grim-faced Trump now says that 100,000 lives lost is a “very low number” in comparison to a 2.2 million projection if nothing had been done.
After comparing COVID-19 to the flu and downplaying its contagious nature for weeks — insisting Americans wanted to get back to work — Trump faces questions Wednesday on how the curve might look now had the federal government responded sooner — and on whether nationwide restrictions should be enacted as governors seek guidance.
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Here are Wednesday’s most significant developments in Washington:
Here are the latest developments in the government response:
While the FBI and other law enforcement agencies continue to insist their security posture has not been hindered by the spread of coronavirus, the crisis has now led to a temporary pause in training classes for the bureau’s next generation of leaders at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.
“In consultation with our Chief Medical Officer and executive leadership, training classes at the FBI Academy have been suspended temporarily,” the FBI said in a statement. “We will continually evaluate the suspension and remain prepared to resume training when safe and appropriate as recommended by our chief medical officer.”
One source familiar told ABC News that one reason for the suspension in classes is “because law enforcement leaders are needed where they serve,” a reference to the academy’s instructors.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams acknowledged Wednesday that the extension of the nationwide social distancing guidelines through April may not be enough time to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus in some areas, “depending on where they are on the curve.”
“We’re looking at this next 30 days as an opportunity for the entire country to really understand if we do the right things, then we can flatten our curve in our own different areas and actually get to the other side,” Adams told ABC News’ “Good Morning America.”
He also explained that data from California, Washington state, and elsewhere made clear that it is possible to flatten a curve.
“If you are aggressive about mitigation, you can get through to the other side and usually in about three weeks or so to hit your peak and start to see cases come down,” he said, noting the most important thing people can do is stay home.
Adams confirmed the federal government has “asked the CDC to take another look at whether or not having more people wear masks will prevent transmission of the disease to other people,” while stressing the general public should not wear N95 masks.
“If you take one of those N95 masks, you may be taking it out of the hands of a health care worker who desperately needs it to care for patients,” he added.
Asked if states that have not issued stay-at-home orders, like Florida, needed to be stricter, Adams said it was up to the governors but that states should provide people with “social support so that they can do the right things.”
“We trust the governors and the mayors to understand their people and understand whether or not they feel like they can trust the people in their states to make the right decisions,” he said.
ABC News’ Ben Gittleson, Jordyn Phelps and Alexander Mallin contributed to this report.