The CDC on Sunday recommended canceling or postponing all events nationwide with more than 50 people — the most aggressive federal guidance issued yet in the worsening the coronavirus crisis.
The new guidelines on mass gatherings apply for the next eight weeks, the CDC said, and exclude schools, higher education institutions and businesses. The agency also specified that the guidelines would not take precedence over rules imposed by individual states.
“This recommendation is made in an attempt to reduce introduction of the virus into new communities and to slow the spread of infection in communities already affected by the virus,” the CDC said. The agency cited conferences, parades and weddings as examples of large gatherings.
The guidance was issued shortly after Trump administration officials warned that the outbreak is likely to worsen over the next several weeks. The officials also announced plans for a series of new testing sites around the country in hopes of more quickly identifying and treating high-risk patients and health care workers — and alleviating pressure on hospital emergency departments.
There are more than 3,000 confirmed cases nationwide, according to a tracker by Johns Hopkins University, figures that are expected to increase sharply as more tests are rolled out.
“The worst is yet ahead for us,” Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, told reporters on Sunday. “This window that we’re in is going to be very important for us to stay ahead of this curve.”
Already, several states and localities have imposed public restrictions of their own — closing schools, restaurants and bars, imposing curfews and banning mass gatherings for the next several weeks.