President Donald Trump still will not call for a national stay-at-home order even as health experts on the coronavirus task force predict the U.S. death toll could climb to 240,000.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Wednesday the White House guidelines should be interpreted as a stay-at-home order in response to a question by NBC's Savannah Guthrie about Florida Gov. Rick DeSantis, who has said he was waiting for a recommendation from the Trump administration to initiate the order for his state.
"Governors have tough choices to make," Adams said. "They have to decide whether or not they feel their citizens will listen to them without a stay-at-home order."
When asked if there was any good reason for a governor to not have a stay-at-home order, he responded: "That's the whole point of these guidelines that we put out. We want, nationally, people to understand the importance of social distancing."
"We live in a nation that has a system of federalism and the governors get to make the decision, but we're going to give them the best possible guidance we can," Adams added.
At least 30 states and Washington, D.C., have issued stay-at-home orders. Seventeen states do not.
Public health officials have warned the pandemic will worsen if the administration does not deliver a strict directive to states.
"What President Trump could do is send a much clearer signal that he wants all governors to do a lockdown on their states, to guide them about what that lockdown would require and what the standard should be," Lawrence Gostin, director of the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University told The Hill.
More than 205,000 people have been infected with coronavirus in the U.S., and more than 4,500 have died.
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