U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the daily coronavirus briefing at the Rose Garden of the White House on March 30, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Win McNamee | Getty Images
President Donald Trump and members of his administration have discussed whether to impose a nationwide stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the coronavirus – but that option is “pretty unlikely” for now, he said Monday.
“Well, we’ve talked about it,” Trump said at a White House press briefing when asked if he is considering a national quarantine order.
Trump’s remarks came a day after the White House extended its “social distancing” guidelines through April 30 – weeks after he had previously suggested businesses might be able to reopen.
A growing number of states have taken extreme steps to try to contain the spread of the deadly virus, including closing non-essential businesses and ordering residents to remain in their homes. But some “hot spot” areas, especially New York, are dealing with far more COVID-19 cases than others, such as Wyoming.
“Obviously there are some parts of the country that are in far deeper trouble than others. There are other parts that are frankly not in trouble at all. So hopefully we’ll be able to keep it that way by doing what we’re doing,” Trump said.
“We talked about quarantine,” Trump continued. “A group came to me and said, ‘We want to do the quarantine.’ I said, ‘Let’s think about it.’ And by the end of the evening, it was tough to enforce, and something we didn’t want to do.”
Issuing a blanket order with such a major impact on most Americans’ daily lives would likely be extremely difficult to enforce, possibly requiring the deployment of the National Guard or a common agreement from all U.S. states to participate.
He added: “If we do that, we’ll let you know. But it’s pretty unlikely, I would think, at this time.”
It was unclear what group had asked the president to impose the nationwide stay-home order. The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for additional information.
The federal government has played an active role in the response to the fast-spreading virus, but it has mainly offered support to states in the form of setting up medical facilities and providing key protective equipment for first responders. The White House’s guidelines – which originally had a 15-day time limit when they were issued March 16 – are advisory and non binding.