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Trump endorses ending coronavirus social distancing soon, against health experts’ advice

President Trump on March 23 said the U.S. could both protect public health and not hurt the economy when asked when he would ending CDC coronavirus guidelines. (Video: The Washington Post)
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President Trump played down the dangers of the coronavirus pandemic Monday, emphasizing the need for the country’s economy to get back to normal.

“America will again — and soon — be open for business,” Trump said in a news conference. Experts warn that ending social distancing too soon would lead to a spike in cases, potentially overwhelming hospitals and leading to more deaths.

U.S. states on Monday reported more than 100 deaths from the novel coronavirus, pushing the country’s total death toll past 500 and marking the first time single-day fatalities have risen into the triple-digits nationwide.

Here are some significant developments:

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at a news conference that all nonessential shops will close, travel will be restricted, and police will enforce social distancing if necessary.
  • President Trump is weighing calls from some Republican lawmakers and White House advisers to scale back steps to contain the coronavirus. Yet senior U.S. health officials, including Anthony S. Fauci, have said the worst of the pandemic has yet to be felt in the United States.
  • The nation’s governors are getting far better marks for their handling of the coronavirus outbreak than President Trump, according to a new Monmouth University poll. Fifty percent of Americans say Trump has done a good job handling the crisis, while 72 percent say governors have done a good job — regardless of party affiliation or severity of outbreak in a particular state.
  • Michigan, Ohio, Louisiana and Oregon became the latest states to announce stay-at-home orders. The governors of Maryland and Massachusetts ordered nonessential businesses to close, and Virginia’s governor said schools would remain closed for the rest of the academic year.
  • Virus-ravaged Italy marked 608 coronavirus deaths Monday, bringing its total to 5,476 — more than any other country. Spain extended its lockdown for another 15 days as the national death toll surged more than 25 percent. Spain now has more than 33,000 confirmed cases, and the prime minister warned that “the worst is yet to come.”

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