US extends social distancing guidelines to April 30. How well Americans follow them could mean the difference between 100,000 and millions of deaths, Birx says

President Donald Trump announces that he is extending US social distancing guidelines until April 30 at a coronavirus task force press briefing in the Rose Garden at the White House.

Posted: Mar 30, 2020 12:51 PM
Updated: Mar 30, 2020 12:51 PM

The latest projections on coronavirus in the US were so alarming, there was virtually no choice but to extend social distancing guidelines, two of the nation's top infectious disease experts said.

Federal guidelines originally scheduled to end this week have now been extended to April 30.

That means all Americans should avoid groups of 10 or more people, avoid discretionary travel, and consider canceling all social visits in homes. Older residents should stay home.

But even with continued social distancing, "I wouldn't be surprised if we saw 100,000 deaths," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

"It was patently obvious, looking at the data ... if we try to push back (on social distancing) prematurely, not only do we lose lives, but it probably would even hurt the economy," he said.

"So you would lose on double accounts. So to us, it was no question what the right choice was."

More than 143,000 people in the US have been infected with coronavirus, and more than 2,400 have died. And it's only been two months since this coronavirus was first detected in the US.

How well Americans obey social distancing could make the difference between 100,000 and millions of deaths, said Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House's coronavirus response coordinator.

"If we do things together well, almost perfectly, we could get in the range of 100,000 to 200,000 fatalities," Birx told NBC's "Today" show Monday. "We don't even want to see that."

Birx said the worst-case projections show "between 1.6 million and 2.2 million deaths if you do nothing" and disregard social distancing guidelines.

'Those are tinders that can turn into big fires'

While the death toll from coronavirus in New York state topped 1,000, it's not just hotspots that need to watch out.

Places with few cases can also steer the direction of this outbreak, Fauci said.

"If you just look at those (places) and say, 'There are very little infections in this area or that area, we don't have to worry about it,' you're making a big mistake. Because those are tinders that can turn into big fires."

"You've got to look at those other areas and make sure you very vigorously identify, test ... get individuals who you take out of society because they're isolated, and do contact tracing," he said.

'There is not enough of anything'

Hundreds of medical workers across the country have fallen sick with coronavirus as hospital employees face dire shortages of protective gear.

"We are slowly descending into chaos," a trauma physician at Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital said.

Trauma physicians that normally rely on literature, research and training are now "flying blind" without instruments and building guidelines from the ground up, the physician said.

And when they're done treating coronavirus patients in trauma, they head back to the ICU to treat more.

At a New York hospital, staff members were wiping down and reusing single-use protective equipment, a doctor in the anesthesiology department said.

When the hospital ran out of life-saving ventilators, it started using anesthesia machines instead.

"There is not enough of anything," the doctor said. "There are just so many patients who are so sick, it seems impossible to keep up with the demand."

And it's not just the elderly who get severe complications. More young adults are getting hospitalized with coronavirus.

At NYU-Langone Brooklyn hospital, patients ranging from their 20s to their 90s are being intubated, an emergency room nurse said.

In Boston, "we are seeing lots of young people get very sick in our intensive care units," said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, chief of infectious disease at Massachusetts General Hospital.

"So when we are asking you to stay home, we are saying please stay home because we don't know who they will be," she said. "We have no way to predict who of the younger will get sicker."

FDA approves limited emergency use of treatments

There's no cure for coronavirus, and the first vaccine probably won't be available until next year.

But over the weekend, the US Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for chloroquine, a drug commonly used against malaria, and hydroxychloroquine to use on patients hospitalized with coronavirus.

Though evidence is limited on the efficacy of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, the FDA said the drugs' benefits outweighed their risk.

"Based on the totality of scientific evidence available to FDA, it is reasonable to believe that chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate may be effective in treating COVID-19," said the agency in its letter.

Treatment authorization is limited to patients who are currently hospitalized and weigh at least 110 pounds. Health care providers must contact their local or state health departments to access the drugs.

You asked, we answered: Your top coronavirus questions

A new travel advisory would limit domestic travel

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel advisory Saturday urging residents in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut "refrain from nonessential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately."

The states would have "full discretion" on implementing the advisory, which exempts employees in working in critical fields.

The CDC advisory came as some starts started implementing their own rules on visitors coming from out-of-state hotspots.

Florida opened highway checkpoints to screen drivers coming from Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Louisiana, the state Department of Transportation said. Drivers coming from those states must self-quarantine for 14 days or for the duration of their visit.

In Delaware Gov. John Carney modified his state of emergency declaration to require out-of-state travelers to self-quarantine for two weeks.

And in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas expanded the state's rules on which visitors must self-quarantine for 14 days.

Previously, anyone flying into Texas from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and New Orleans must quarantine 14 days.

The expanded order adds anyone driving into Texas from Louisiana plus anyone flying from Miami, Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, Washington state and California.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 49575

Reported Deaths: 2739
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11812690
Lake5337247
Elkhart343257
Allen2867133
St. Joseph202569
Cass16439
Hamilton1629101
Hendricks1439100
Johnson1306118
Porter78038
Tippecanoe7439
Clark67144
Madison66864
Vanderburgh6296
LaPorte59727
Bartholomew59245
Howard58258
Kosciusko5654
Marshall5217
Noble49128
LaGrange4829
Jackson4773
Delaware46052
Boone45944
Hancock45736
Shelby43425
Floyd39144
Morgan32831
Monroe31528
Grant30226
Montgomery29720
Henry29316
Dubois2906
Clinton2882
White26810
Decatur25532
Lawrence25125
Dearborn24723
Vigo2408
Warrick23229
Harrison21722
Greene19132
Miami1892
Jennings17912
Putnam1708
DeKalb1634
Scott1628
Daviess15017
Wayne1496
Perry1409
Orange13623
Steuben1332
Franklin1278
Jasper1252
Ripley1247
Wabash1152
Carroll1122
Fayette1037
Gibson1032
Newton9910
Whitley995
Starke963
Huntington822
Randolph804
Wells791
Jefferson782
Fulton731
Jay680
Washington671
Pulaski661
Knox650
Clay644
Rush603
Owen511
Adams491
Posey490
Benton480
Spencer461
Sullivan451
Brown421
Blackford392
Fountain332
Crawford320
Tipton311
Switzerland280
Parke240
Martin220
Ohio210
Vermillion170
Warren151
Union130
Pike110
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 61331

Reported Deaths: 3006
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin11122439
Cuyahoga8518383
Hamilton6396206
Lucas2859304
Marion273739
Montgomery228335
Summit2269209
Pickaway220641
Mahoning1885239
Butler172147
Columbiana132460
Stark1171114
Lorain107368
Trumbull101474
Warren91825
Clark78410
Delaware64515
Fairfield61417
Tuscarawas59010
Belmont55822
Lake55122
Medina54832
Licking53612
Miami48631
Portage47759
Wood46151
Ashtabula43844
Clermont4367
Geauga41543
Wayne36752
Richland3595
Allen33841
Greene3009
Mercer29410
Erie26022
Darke25326
Holmes2524
Huron2342
Madison2069
Ottawa16124
Sandusky14215
Washington14220
Crawford1375
Ross1363
Putnam13315
Coshocton1323
Hardin12312
Morrow1201
Auglaize1094
Jefferson952
Muskingum921
Union921
Athens911
Monroe8917
Hancock841
Preble811
Hocking798
Lawrence790
Guernsey763
Shelby724
Williams722
Clinton700
Logan661
Fulton650
Ashland621
Wyandot615
Carroll603
Brown591
Scioto560
Defiance543
Knox531
Fayette510
Highland471
Champaign461
Van Wert430
Perry401
Seneca362
Henry320
Jackson270
Paulding270
Pike270
Adams241
Vinton222
Gallia201
Noble130
Harrison121
Meigs120
Morgan110
Unassigned00
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