The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Sunday called for the cancellation of in-person events of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks to try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The agency issued new guidance as governors across the country directed bars and restaurants to close down with the exception of carryout or delivery business. Arizona, Ohio and other states have shuttered schools for weeks to try to limit transmission of the virus.
"Events of any size should only be continued if they can be carried out with adherence to guidelines for protecting vulnerable populations, hand hygiene, and social distancing," the CDC said. "When feasible, organizers could modify events to be virtual."
The guidance does not apply to large organizations such as schools, universities or businesses, the CDC said, though many of those institutions have implemented telework or online classes. The advisory does not supersede direction from state and local officials.
"This recommendation is made in an attempt to reduce introduction of the virus into new communities and to slow the spread of infection in communities already affected by the virus," the agency said. "This recommendation is not intended to supersede the advice of local public health officials."
More than 2,900 people in the U.S. are confirmed to have the coronavirus, and roughly 60 people have died from the disease as of Sunday afternoon.
Vice President Pence said Sunday that the federal government would release additional guidance on Monday morning on social distancing measures but that the federal government would defer to state and local officials to enact policies fit to their individual situations.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, would not elaborate on the guidance but did not rule out the potential for a national lockdown similar to what is taking place in Italy.
"The worst is yet ahead for us," he said. "It is how we respond to that challenge that’s going to determine what that ultimate endpoint is going to be."