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New date for social distancing

WASHINGTON — Federal guidelines designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus will remain in place until April 30, President Donald Trump said on Sunday.

The president had originally hoped to lift the advisories, which recommend people avoid dine-in restaurants, bars and gatherings of more than 10 people and limiting travel to essential trips, by Easter Sunday on April 12.

The guidelines had originally been intended for 15 days, and would have expired on Monday, but after re-evaluation, they were extended.

“During this period, it’s very important that everyone follow the guidelines,” Trump at a news conference on Sunday. “The better you do, the faster this whole nightmare will end.”

The number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. topped 140,000 over the weekend, with 2,485 deaths recorded.

In Ohio, cases exceeded 1,600, with 29 deaths reported. The state remains under a state of emergency, with a stay-at-home order in place by Gov. Mike DeWine. K-12 schools are closed through Friday, though the governor has said it is possible they may not reopen for the rest of the academic year.

Last Friday, Dr. Amy Acton, director of the state’s department of health, released a new model, which showed that cases in the state are expected to peak in late April to early May, at which point, she said it could see as many as 10,000 new cases a day.

Acton said the peak would have been more severe had no restrictions on public gatherings been in place. She said the model showed the peak, without restrictions, would have occurred now, with as many as 51,000 cases a day.

“The numbers are a range,” she said at the governor’s news conference. “I know 8,000-10,000 sounds like a lot, but that really isn’t a huge amount of Ohioans. We want it to spread slower, but it is spreading. When we stay home, the effectiveness will show up in our data a few weeks from now.”

Acton urged Ohioans to maintain social distancing and said it is making a difference. She compared the model to the forecasting of hurricanes.

“First, they tell us where it might land, but they can’t say when or where exactly it will hit,” she said. “Then, as you get closer, your predications get better. Similarly, our models are giving us a compass.”

She said, even though the figures were high, they show the curve has been flattened.

“These numbers would have been much, much higher had we not taken action when we did,” she said.