President Donald Trump on Monday issued a two-page memo containing several “guidelines” for Americans and state leaders to follow over a period of 15 days as a way to limit the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).
But for some lawmakers and White House officials, those measures fall far short of what they say is needed: A national lockdown similar to those imposed by China and European governments.
During a White House press conference Monday afternoon, Trump referenced the memo titled, “15 Days to Slow the Spread,” which officials noted was not a national lockdown order.
Rather, they contain suggestions for Americans and businesses to follow in order to reduce contact and thus help blunt the spread of the coronavirus.
“If everyone makes this change, or these critical changes and sacrifices now, we will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus,” the president told reporters. “We’re going to have a big celebration all together.”
The president, who was no doubt quoting his health experts, added that the outbreak could last into July or August.
The administration’s new guidance advises Americans to avoid drinking and eating at bars, restaurants, and other food establishments. Trump also recommended against most social visits, including visiting nursing and retirement homes.
“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 said.
Trump’s recommendations come a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised Americans to avoid places where 50 or more people were gathered.
But the president’s recommendations did not go far enough for Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.). As Breitbart News reports, he is calling for a China/Europe-style national “shutdown.”
“The time has come for extraordinary measures to combat the Chinese coronavirus. What seems extreme today will seem obvious tomorrow,” said Cotton, who has been critical of the House’s coronavirus relief measures.
Cotton premised his recommendation on the current situation in Italy, where hundreds of people are dying by the day as the virus outbreak surges there. He notes that the outbreak has led to hospitals and healthcare clinics being overwhelmed even as they ration care for older, sicker patients.
The Arkansas Republican said he thinks the U.S. can only hope to “shorten the risk to Americans’ health and the economic hardships” if the government takes drastic actions now. (Related: Secret UK health doc predicts “80%” will become afflicted with coronavirus as outbreak stretches into 2021 and kills 500,000-plus.)
That could also include issuing cash stipends to workers amid a national “shutdown” which ceases all but “essential activities.”
“Call it what you want—a shutdown, quarantine, curfew, whatever. But only absolutely essential work should continue: groceries, pharmacies, supply transport, health care, electricity, water, sanitation, etc. Everyone else should stay home,” Cotton added, according to Breitbart.
“Shut down all but essential government agencies & services. At federal, state, and local levels, officials working to arrest the virus’s spread and mitigate its economic harm (and other essential services like food aid and VA care) must continue working,” he continued. “No one else should.”
He also added that the U.S. military should also be preparing for the defense of civil authorities — a dire statement — “especially at hospitals, nursing homes, etc. & do whatever is needed to increase our capacity to treat patients.
“Our military plans for exactly this kind of contingency,” he said. “Our doctors and nurses may need them. As Dr. Anthony Fauci said yesterday, ‘we’ll be thankful that we overreacted’ if we arrest the spread of the virus, preserve hospital capacity, and save lives,” Cotton said.