‘Take it easy. Just relax’ | Trump urges Americans to stop hoarding food, supplies

On the same day the Federal Reserve slashed interest rates to near zero to prevent the U.S. economy from going into coronavirus-related freefall, President Donald Trump on Sunday called on Americans to cease hoarding groceries and other supplies.

"You don't have to buy so much," Trump said at a Sunday news conference. "Take it easy. Just relax."

At the same time, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said he would like to see aggressive measures such as a 14-day national shutdown.


Trump assured Americans, after speaking with leading grocery chain executives, grocers would remain open and the supply chain remained healthy. Vice President Mike Pence urged Americans to only buy the groceries they need for the week ahead.

Credit: AJC

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New protocols were on the way to protect the president and his staff. Starting Monday, those who enter the White House complex will have their temperatures taken, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to the Associated Press. This would expand on screenings that began Saturday for those in close proximity to the president and vice president.

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Fauci, the public face of the administration's messaging during a round of morning TV interviews, said the country should do as much as "we possibly could," even if officials were criticized for overreacting. He said he raised the issue of measures such as a shutdown with the Trump administration, and said officials were open to his ideas.

"Americans should be prepared that they are going to have to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing," said Fauci, a member of the White House task force on combating the spread of coronavirus. He heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.

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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he will ask Congress to reinstate powers that were used during the 2008 financial crisis to support the economy as the coronavirus threatens to significantly slow U.S. business activity in the weeks ahead.

Fauci said the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions should already be hunkering down, but other Americans, too, should consider further restricting their outside activity, including teleworking if possible, avoiding travel and skipping meals in restaurants.

"Everything is on the table," he said. "Right now, myself personally, I wouldn't go to a restaurant. I just wouldn't because I don't want to be in a crowded place. ... I don't want to be in a situation where I'm going to be all of a sudden self-isolating for 14 days." The virus has an incubation period of anywhere from two days to 14 days before symptoms emerge.

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The Federal Reserve on Sunday slashed its benchmark interest rate by a full percentage point to nearly zero and announced it would purchase more Treasury securities to encourage lending to offset the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The central bank said the effects of the outbreak will weigh on economic activity in the near term and pose risks to the economic outlook. The central bank said it will keep rates at nearly zero until it feels confident the economy has weathered recent events.

Due to the outbreak, the U.S. stock market has lost most if not all of its gains since Trump took office in 2017. Public schools and municipalities are closing across the country. Employees are working from home or being laid off, and major athletic and entertainment events are being called off until further notice.

The worldwide outbreak has sickened more than 156,000 people and left more than 5,800 dead. The death toll in the United States is more than 50, while infections neared 3,000 across 49 states and the District of Columbia.