The U.S. government on Sunday extended to April 30 its guidelines asking people to stay at home and practice social distancing, citing an estimate that 2.2 million people could die in the absence of measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

President Donald Trump had earlier said that he hoped to get the country "back to work" by mid-April but he backed off from the goal with the United States becoming the country with the highest number of infections in the world.

(New York)

"The peak, the highest point of death likely to hit in two weeks...Therefore, we will be extending our guidelines to April 30 to slow the spread," Trump said during a press conference at the White House.

He added that he believes "by June 1 we will be well on our way to recovery."

On March 16, the Trump administration rolled out its 15-day guidance aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, calling for people to work or engage in schooling from home whenever possible and to avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people.

States across the country have taken tougher actions by issuing stay-at-home orders. By Monday, at least 27 of the nation's 50 states will have such orders in effect, affecting more than 225 million people, or over two-thirds of the U.S. population, according to CNN.

The number of confirmed infection cases in the United States has been rapidly rising from earlier this month, partly on the back of enhanced testing. It has now exceeded 140,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University researchers.

The death toll eclipsed 2,400, but is lower than other hard-hit countries such as Italy, where more than 10,000 people have died, and China, where more than 3,000 deaths have been reported, the tally showed.