30 Days to slow the spread, social distancing to continue

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, flanked by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, left, and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, speaks during a press conference at the state Capitol about the state's response to the coronavirus on Tuesday, March 31, 2020, in Austin, Texas. (Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

By Meredith Pratt | Staff Writer

President Trump held a national briefing with the coronavirus task force Tuesday evening updating the status of social distancing guidelines with the new “30 Days to Slow the Spread” campaign.

The briefing followed Trump’s announcement on Sunday that, after consulting with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), he will be extending safety protocols for another 30 days. Just a week prior, Trump stated that he hoped things would return to normal by Easter on April 12.

“It’s a matter of life and death,” Trump said. “I know our citizens will rise to the occasion, and they already have. They’ve sacrificed a lot.”

Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order enforcing the extension of social distancing protocol in Texas on Tuesday to ensure that the state is complying with national guidelines.

Essential trips are still allowed under the order, as well as physical activity like jogging or bicycling. The order also extends school closures to May 4.

As of Tuesday evening, there have been 3,266 cases of COVID-19 reported in Texas, including 41 deaths, and nearly 43,000 coronavirus tests have been administered statewide.

“Now it is time to redouble our efforts to reduce further exposure as much as possible and flatten the curve,” Abbott said. “We’ve come too far to falter now. Together, we will persevere through this for another month.”

Immunologist and advisor to Trump throughout the crisis, Anthony Fauci, said in the national press conference he stressed that now is not the time for Americans to put their foot on the breaks but to “press it down on the accelerator” in terms of following safety measures like social distancing.

He emphasized that adhering to mitigation practices will be crucial moving forward and that Americans should do it with “all the intensity and force that we can.”

Mitigation, as defined on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) website, is “the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters” and is achieved through “regulations, local ordinances, land use, and building practices and mitigation projects that reduce or eliminate long-term risk from hazards and their effects.”

On Sunday, Fauci said that 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from the virus even if precautions such as social distancing are followed. Fauci did say, however, that this is only an estimation, and that there is no way of being certain, since COVID-19 is a novel, or new, virus.

“It’s such a moving target that you could so easily be wrong and mislead people,” Fauci said.

Vice President Pence reported that 1.1 million coronavirus tests have been administered as of Tuesday, and that he and Trump had been in contact with all governors to touch base on the individual needs of states.