President Donald Trump said Sunday that the peak death rate in the United States from the coronavirus pandemic was likely to hit in two weeks.
Trump, during a briefing at the White House, also said that he was extending the government's "social distancing" guidelines until 30 April.
"The modelling estimates that the peak in death rate is likely to hit in two weeks," the president said.
"Therefore, we will be extending our guidelines to April 30th to slow the spread," he said.
Trump also said he expects the country "will be well on our way to recovery" by 1 June - dropping his previous target of Easter.
His comments come as New York City, New Orleans and other major cities expect to run out of ventilators and other medical supplies within days as the United States grapples with the highest number of coronavirus cases in the world.
New York City will need hundreds more ventilators in a few days and more masks, gowns and other supplies by 5 April, Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN on Sunday.
It comes as the number of deaths from the coronavirus in New York state increased by 237 in the past day, reaching a total of 965 since the outbreak began, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday.
The state also reported 7,195 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the past day for a total of 59,513, Cuomo told a news conference.
Another 1,175 people were hospitalized in the past day, increasing the total to more than 8,500 hospitalizations in the state, including more than 2,000 in intensive care, Cuomo said. New York has been the most affected U.S. state.
In New Orleans, Louisiana's governor said that the city will run out of ventilators around 4 April and officials in the statestill do not know whether they will receive any ventilators from the national stockpile.
Louisiana has tried to order 12,000 ventilators from commercial vendors and has received 192, Governor John Bel Edwards said on CBS' 'Face the Nation'.
"We haven't yet been approved for ventilators out of the national stockpile. I continue to press that case and I hope we will be cut in for a slice of what they have left," Edwards said. "It is the one thing that really keeps me up at night."
"We are scared. We're trying to fight for everyone else's life, but we also fight for our lives as well"
A shortage of ventilators in several major cities worsened as the US death count crossed 2,100 on Saturday, more than double the level from two days ago. The United States has now recorded more than 123,000 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, the most of any country in the world.
Doctors are also especially concerned about a shortage of ventilators, breathing machines needed by many of those suffering from the pneumonia-like respiratory ailment.
Dr. Arabia Mollette, an emergency medicine physician at Brookdale and St Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx, has started praying during the cab ride to work in the morning before she enters what she describes as a "medical warzone."
At the end ofher shift, which often runs much longer than the scheduled 12hours, she sometimes cannot hold back tears.
"We're trying to keep our heads above water without drowning," Mollette said. "We are scared. We're trying to fight for everyone else's life, but we also fight for our lives as well."
On Saturday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned residents of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey against non-essential domestic travel for 14 days.
Since the virus first appeared in the United States in late January, Trump has vacillated between playing down the risks of infection and urging Americans to take steps to slow its spread.
Tests to track the disease's progress also remain in short supply, despite repeated White House promises that they would be widely available.
Experts on the White House coronavirus task force persuaded Trump that a travel advisory was preferable to the strict quarantine he was considering for the hard-hit New York area to limit the spread of the pathogen, officials said on Sunday.
Trump had said on Saturday afternoon he might impose a ban on travel in and out of New York state and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut, the epicenter of the health crisis in the United States, drawing protests from governors including Cuomo.
"After discussions with the president, we made it clear, and he agreed, that it would be much better to do what's called a strong advisory"
Hours later Trump dropped the idea, advocating a strong travel advisory instead, as was then announced by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"We had very intensive discussions last night at the White House with the president. As you know, the original proposal was to consider seriously an enforceable quarantine," said Dr.Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
"After discussions with the president, we made it clear, and he agreed, that it would be much better to do what's called a strong advisory," Fauci said on CNN's "State of the Union."
Fauci said enforcing a quarantine could create more difficulties for people and the same goal could be accomplished with an advisory.
Task force members unanimously decided on Saturday to go forward with the travel advisory and advised Trump - a New Yorker himself - who accepted their recommendation, U.S.Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.
"I think the president wanted to consider all the options. He was obviously concerned what was going on with New York," Mnuchin said in an interview with "Fox News Sunday."
Trump also spoke with the state governors and "he was comfortable that people would take this advisory very seriously, and would not travel," Mnuchin added.
Cuomo said he supported the travel advisory and that the advice was "nothing that we haven't been doing" already.
Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the task force, said that "we are asking every single governor and every single mayor to prepare like New York is preparing now."
"No state, no metro area will be spared," Birx said on NBC's 'Meet the Press' program.
Since the virus first appeared in the United States in January, Trump has vacillated between playing down the risks and urging Americans to take steps to slow its spread.
Indeed, Trump on Sunday bragged about the millions of people tuning in to view his daily press briefings on the coronavirus pandemic, saying on Twitter that his average ratings matched a season finale of 'The Bachelor'.
Because the "Ratings" of my News Conferences etc. are so high, "Bachelor finale, Monday Night Football type numbers" according to the @nytimes, the Lamestream Media is going CRAZY. "Trump is reaching too many people, we must stop him." said one lunatic. See you at 5:00 P.M.!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 29, 2020
Trump's daily coronavirus updates have attracted an averageaudience of 8.5 million on cable news, the New York Times reported on 25 March, citing data from Nielsen Holdings Plc.
Trump had abandoned the custom of having regular press briefings at the White House, but brought them back this month to update the public on his coronavirus task force.
The New York Times said viewership of the briefings had risen because people were concerned about the virus and stuck at home. Trump's briefing on 23 March drew nearly 12.2 million viewers on the major cable news channels, the newspaper said.