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White House urges older Americans to stay home, all to avoid crowds

JONATHAN LEMIRE, ANDREW TAYLOR and JILL COLVIN
The Associated Press
Washington Union Station, a major transportation hub in the nation's capital, is nearly empty during morning rush hour as many government and private sector workers stay home during the coronavirus outbreak, in Washington, Monday, March 16, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — The White House on Monday urged all older Americans to stay home and everyone to avoid crowds and eating out at restaurants as part of sweeping guidelines meant to combat an expected surge of coronavirus cases.

President Donald Trump and the coronavirus task force released the guidelines as the U.S. government moved to try to blunt the impact of the virus, racing to bolster testing and aid even as financial markets fell and Americans scrambled to reorder their lives.

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Among the new recommendations: Over the next 15 days, Americans should not gather in groups of more than 10 people, schooling should be at home and discretionary travel and social visits should be avoided. If anyone in a household tests positive for the virus, everyone who lives there should stay home.

The president, in an appearance in the White House briefing room, when asked when the pandemic would subside, said that "if we do a really good job" the crisis could pass by July or August, a far less optimistic take than in his earlier predictions that it could be over within weeks.

"We will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus," Trump said. "We can turn the corner and turn it quickly."

The administration did not immediately define what an "an older American" was in terms of the recommendation to stay home. 

Signs in the briefing room of the White House indicate social distancing measures being taken to separate reporters working at the White House, Monday, March 16, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)