WHITE HOUSE - The White House is recommending people in the United States avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people for at least the next 15 days.
Commenting on the new guidance from his administration's coronavirus task force, President Donald Trump said Americans should school at home, avoid traveling, and not patronize bars and restaurants.
"As we combat the virus, each and every one of us has a critical role to play in stopping the spread and transmission of the virus," said the president, leading a nearly one-hour long briefing for reporters.
He denied a nationwide curfew is under consideration.
Asked how long the virus crisis would last, Trump predicted it would be until July or August or possibly longer.
"It could be right in that period of time where … it washes through," Trump said.
Some of the latest attempts to prevent the virus from spreading including new shelter-in-place orders Tuesday for about 7 million people in the San Francisco area, as well as closures of movie theaters, gyms and restaurants in Washington, D.C.
Organizers of the Kentucky Derby horse race are expected to announce Tuesday the event is being postponed from its traditional running in May to a date in September.
As normal life in the United States quickly came to a halt with mandated closures of businesses beginning in many states, stock prices on Wall Street plunged Monday.
Despite an extraordinary move taken by the Federal Reserve a day earlier to boost investor confidence, the Dow Jones Industrial on Monday dived 3,000 points to close 13 percent lower — the worst trading day since the start of the coronavirus crisis.
"The market will be very strong as soon as we get rid of the virus," Trump replied when told of the closing numbers while he was still at the briefing room lectern.
The Fed, which is America's central bank, on Sunday made an emergency cut to interest rates, bringing them to near zero, amid deep concern that the coronavirus pandemic will hit corporate revenue globally. Despite the move, Asia markets fell sharply in Monday trading, a harbinger of what would happen hours later on Wall Street.
Both Trump and the White House economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, acknowledged on Monday the country could be headed into a recession.
"No question about it, we are going to be challenged. I'm not going to label it one thing or another," Kudlow responded to a question from VOA.
Kudlow added that while first quarter statistics will be fine, the second quarter "could be a very difficult quarter."
To help mitigate the impact to the domestic economy, Kudlow revealed the administration is considering offering companies 100 percent expensing to move their factories back from China.
"It'll help everybody in America," said Kudlow, who explained Trump has not yet signed off on the proposal.
Trump later in the day also said the government is looking at bailing out domestic airlines suffering severe turbulence from the loss of passengers due to the pandemic.
"We're going to back the airlines 100 percent. It's not their fault," he told reporters.
Trump on Monday spoke with other G-7 leaders to coordinate action in response to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
"It was a very good discussion," said Trump, describing great camaraderie among the leaders, although he gave no specifics on the outcome.
After the G-7 call, Trump held a similar call with state governors on the same topic.
The president acknowledged he told the governors that if they are able to acquire needed ventilators and respirators for their hospitals quicker than they can get them from the federal government, they should do that.
The United States has more than 4,200 coronavirus cases in all but one of the 50 states.
So far, there have been more than 80 deaths reported from the disease in the country.
The Senate, controlled by the president's Republican Party, this week is considering a coronavirus relief package.
The legislation, as approved by the Democrat-controlled House, ensures individuals would have access to free coronavirus testing, ensure displaced workers get paid leave and other benefits.
Trump suggested the bill might be made "even better" by Senate Republicans to include sick leave for a larger group of workers.