President Donald Trump has urged the public to stop hoarding groceries amid the coronavirus outbreak, telling Americans to “take it easy” and “relax”.
President Trump’s message came as many supermarket shelves across the country were picked bare, with people stockpiling supplies like canned goods and toilet paper.
President Trump said at a White House briefing that shops are working to keep up with demand, but added “there’s no need for anyone in the country to hoard” essentials.
“You don’t have to buy so much. Take it easy. Just relax” because “it all will pass,” the president said, adding: “Can you buy a little bit less, please?”
President Trump held a call earlier on Sunday with the officials from the nation’s leading grocery outlets.
He said he was told the stores are stocking up even more than they would around Christmas time.
The Trump administration said millions of new coronavirus tests would be made available in the coming weeks, including tests that speed processing of samples, but it was encouraging Americans to exercise restraint in seeking to get tested.
Dr Deborah Birx, the White House coordinator for responding to the pandemic, said those most vulnerable to the respiratory disease and the healthcare providers treating them should go first.
“We ask you to prioritise them and prioritise them in the lines,” she said.
Dr Birx said that will result in a “spike” in positive results as more people gain access to tests.
Vice President Mike Pence said that he and the president would brief the nation’s governors on Monday “specifically about our expanding testing to the American people”.
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,” Dr Anthony Fauci said. “It is how we respond to that challenge that is going to determine what the ultimate endpoint is going to be.”
President Trump tried to offer a measure of reassurance, acknowledging that the virus was “very contagious” but asserting that his administration had “tremendous control” over the spread of the disease.