Trump calls on Americans to cease hoarding food, supplies

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a briefing on coronavirus in the Brady press briefing room at the White House, Saturday, March 14, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Donald Trump on Sunday called on people to stop hoarding groceries and other supplies as one of the nation's most senior public health officials urged Americans to act with more urgency to protect themselves and others against the coronavirus. Dr. Anthony Fauci said he would like to see aggressive measures such as a 14-day national shutdown.

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

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

The comments from the president came after the government’s top infectious disease expert said he would like to see Americans to hunker down even more to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Still, Fauci said travel restrictions within the United States, such as to and from hard-hit Washington state and California, probably would not be needed anytime soon.

Officials in Washington were preparing for what was expected to be a long-haul effort to try to stem the virus that has upended life around the globe.

“The worst is yet ahead for us,” Fauci said. “It is how we respond to that challenge that is going to determine what the ultimate endpoint is going to be.”

Trump, on the other hand, offered an optimistic outlook even as officials said the infection rate in the U.S. was surging. The president acknowledged that the virus was “very contagious” but asserted that his administration had “tremendous control” over the spread of the disease.