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President Trump announced on Sunday that his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30 in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus, which has now infected more than 130,000 Americans and killed nearly 2,500.

Why it matters: Top advisers to the president have been seeking to steer him away from Easter as an arbitrary deadline for the U.S. to open parts of its economy, amid warnings from health officials that loosening restrictions could cause the number of coronavirus cases to skyrocket.

  • Trump declined to call the Easter deadline a "mistake" at Sunday's press conference, claiming it was "just an aspiration."

What he's saying:

"The modeling estimates that the peak in death rate is likely to hit in two weeks. So, I'll say it again, the peak — the highest point of death rates, remember this — is likely to hit in two weeks. Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won. That would be the greatest loss of all. ....
Therefore, we will be extending our guidelines to April 30 to slow the spread. On Tuesday, we will be finalizing these plans and providing a summary of our findings, supporting data, and strategy to the American people."
— President Trump

The big picture: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that the timing for lifting social distancing restrictions will depend heavily on the availability of new tests that can give coronavirus results in 15 minutes.

  • These real-time tests will allow health officials to identify patients, isolate them and do "contact tracing" to locate people they interacted with, Fauci said.
  • In stark contrast with the rosier outlook projected by Trump, Fauci said that the virus will infect millions of Americans and could kill 100,000–200,000 — though he cautioned that these numbers are a "moving target."

The bottom line: Trump said that modeling shows that if the social distancing restrictions are effective, the U.S. can expect to be "well on our way to recovery" by June 1.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
4 hours ago - Health

Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has picked former FDA chief David Kessler to lead Operation Warp Speed, a day after unveiling a nearly $2 trillion pandemic relief plan that includes $400 billion for directly combatting the virus.

Why it matters: Biden's transition team said Kessler has been advising the president-elect since the beginning of the pandemic, and hopes his involvement will help accelerate vaccination, the New York Times reports. Operation Warp Speed's current director, Moncef Slaoui, will stay on as a consultant.

The case of the missing relief money

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A chunk of stimulus payments is missing in action, thanks to a mix up that put as many as 13 million checks into invalid bank accounts.

Why it matters: The IRS (by law) was supposed to get all payments out by Friday. Now the onus could shift to Americans to claim the money on their tax refund — further delaying relief to struggling, lower-income Americans.

The post-Trump GOP, gutted

McConnell (L), McCarthy (R) and Trump. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Republicans will emerge from the Trump era gutted financially, institutionally and structurally.

The big picture: The losses are stark and substantial.