President Trump resumed his White House coronavirus briefings on Tuesday night for the first time since they stopped in April, touting progress but warning the pandemic will probably “get worse before it gets better.”
Trump spoke for almost a half-hour, calling COVID-19 the “China virus” and urging people to wear a mask in crowded areas.
“It will probably unfortunately get worse before it gets better. Something I don’t like saying, but that’s the way it is,” Trump warned.
Trump gave a sobering assessment of a spike in new cases across the South and Southwest and said “patriotism” is a reason to wear a mask.
“I’m getting used to the mask. And the reason is, think about patriotism,” Trump said. Trump urged younger adults to avoid packed bars and wear masks in close quarters, saying he would wear one himself if he finds himself in an elevator.
“Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact. And we need everything we can get,” he said.
President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the White House today.AP
But Trump added an optimistic outlook, saying: “We keep doing a good job and things will be getting better and better.”
Trump hailed his “tremendous moves” shutting down travel from China and the European Union early in the pandemic. And charts behind Trump showed the US with a better case mortality rate than European countries and Canada.
“It’s a nasty horrible disease. It should have never been allowed to escape China. But it did, and it affected the world, and the world is suffering,” Trump said.
The virus has infected nearly 4 million Americans and killed more than 140,000, resulting in millions jobless after schools and businesses closed in March.
The president was not joined on stage by any members of his White House coronavirus task force. The task force’s leader, Vice President Mike Pence, was traveling in South Carolina and task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a CNN interview about an hour before the briefing that he wasn’t invited. But Trump said fellow task force member Dr. Deborah Birx was “right outside” the briefing room.
The president retook the stage after vowing to bring back the daily briefings that had ended about three months ago. Trump returned to the stage as advisers reportedly urged him to reclaim control of messaging in the face of slumping polls.
“Our goal is not merely to manage the pandemic, but we want to get rid of it soon as we can. That is why getting a vaccine remains a top priority to vaccine candidates are entering the final stage clinical trials,” Trump said.
President Donald Trump calls on members of the press during a news conference at the White House today.AP
He said “we’re trying very much” to pump out more machines that give rapid results. But still, he said, “per capita in the US is conducting 50 percent more tests than Europe.”
“My administration has been aggressively responding to cases throughout the Sunbelt and we continue to do so working very close with all governors but right now,” Trump said.
And he defended his own belated adoption of publicly wearing a mask, noting medical experts initially said they weren’t necessary.
“We have experts that have said in the recent past that masks aren’t necessary, you know that. Now they’ve changed their minds. If they’ve changed their mind, that’s good enough for me,” he said.