New York, March 16 (IANS) US President Donald Trump has urged Americans to stop stockpiling groceries as a reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic and asked people to “relax” and “take it easy”, even as locals across the country continue to report empty shelves in leading supermarkets and wholesale stores.
Trump on Sunday struck an upbeat tone on the same day when America’s top infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said the worst effects of the COVID-19 were “still to come”.
“You don’t have to buy so much. Take it easy. Just relax. It will all pass,” Trump said.
“Can you buy a little bit less, please?”
Trump spoke at the White House even as Americans continue to be stunned by the sudden shortage of canned food, bread, pasta, meat and other essential edibles in their neighbourhood markets.
“There’s no shortages. We have no shortages other than people are buying anywhere from three to five times what they would normally buy,” Trump said.
The President said he spoke with the chiefs of America’s leading grocery stores and they assured him they are stocking up more than they would during the Christmas season.
Trump’s comments came a day before his administration announces “advanced guidelines” on Monday on containment and mitigation strategies against the pandemic.
“You’re going to be hearing more about advanced guidelines and more precise instructions of how we could implement this mitigation within the community,” Fauci said.
He said the US was at a “very critical point” in the battle to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 spread.
“Now, if you look at the curves that I’ve described multiple, multiple times, this window that we’re in is going to be very important for us to stay ahead of this curve,” Fauci warned.
In the same briefing, Trump praised the US Federal Reserve which took emergency economic measures on Sunday slashing its benchmark interest rate to zero and committing to buy $700 billion in treasury and mortgage bonds.
Trump reassured Americans that he is using the “full power of the federal government” to defeat the coronavirus”.
“We will do whatever it takes and we’re doing really, really well,” he said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 60 Americans and more than 5,800 people worldwide.
Over 156,000 people have been infected globally.
Speaking about the danger of the virus, Trump described its potency as “incredible”.
(Arul Louis can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org followed on Twitter @arulouis and Nikhila Natarajan can be contacted @byniknat)