Trump announces Covid-19 measures as individual states take lead

US health guidelines to be reassessed after 15 days but exclude quarantine and curfews

US president Donald Trump unveiled a series of new guidelines to combat the threat of coronavirus, but stopped short of announcing a national curfew or quarantine.

As individual states across America began implementing sweeping measures to protect the public, Mr Trump on Monday announced new federal recommendations. These include: home schooling if possible, no group gatherings of more than 10 people, avoiding non-essential travel, and not eating and drinking in restaurants, bars or public food courts. The guidelines will be in place for 15 days and will then be reassessed.

However, he said a national quarantine or curfew was not currently under consideration at this point. “Some places in our nation are not very affected at all. We may look at certain areas, certain hotspots,” he said.

However, he warned it could be “July or August or later” before the coronavirus “washes through”, comments that caused stock markets to nosedive as he spoke.


Anthony Fauci, the immunologist leading the federal response, said the new guidance "isn't an overaction. It is an action that we feel is commensurate."

Asked by a reporter how he rated his response to the crisis on a level of one to 10, Mr Trump replied: “I’d rate it at 10.”

Asked if the buck stopped with him, he replied: “Yes, normally, but this has never been done before in this country.”

Medical equipment

Mr Trump’s comments followed a conference call between the president and the governors of states across the country earlier in the day. US media reported that Mr Trump told the governors not to depend on the federal government for medical equipment.

“Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment – try getting it yourselves,” he said, according to reports based on recordings of the conversation.

States across the country announced school closures on Monday with several governors closing bars and restaurants, though allowing takeout and delivery services to continue.

The growing scramble at state level to stop the spread of the virus through community transmission, comes amid ongoing concern that the number of cases in the United States may be masked by the lack of testing.

Markets suffered their worst day in 30 years on Monday, as coronavirus continued to cause havoc on Wall Street. The S&P dropped by 8 per cent within a minute of markets opening.  Trading was then halted for 15 minutes as the emergency “circuit breaker” – a precautionary measure that kicks in when stocks drop below a certain level – was triggered.

Fed cut

The market turbulence took place despite a dramatic intervention by the Federal Reserve on Sunday evening. In addition to cutting its benchmark interest rate to close to zero, it also committed to purchasing $500 billion of treasuries and $200 billion of mortgage-backed securities.

The fact the intervention was announced by the Fed on a Sunday evening ahead of markets opening on Monday was an indication of the deep-seated concern about the impact of disruption from coronavirus on the US economy.

All indices ended deep in negative territory. The S&P fell 12 per cent by the close of markets, while the Dow Jones was down almost 13 per cent.

In particular, there are growing indications that the airline industry could receive some kind of rescue package from the government as carriers cut flights and capacity. The industry body representing airlines in the US said it was seeking a package of more than $50 billion. Mr Trump said the airline industry would be backstopped.

"We're going to back the airlines 100 per cent. It is not their fault, it's nobody's fault . . . unless you go back to the original source," he said, in an apparent reference to China where the Covid-19 strain originated.