President Donald Trump warned Tuesday the coronavirus pandemic in the United States will probably “get worse before it gets better.”
“That’s something I don’t like saying about things, but that’s the way it is, it’s what we have,” he said during a White House briefing on the pandemic. “You look over the world, it’s all over the world.”
Trump’s comments come as the coronavirus continues to rapidly spread across the nation. The virus has infected more than 3.8 million Americans and killed at least 141,118 as of Tuesday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Texas and Florida hit a grim record Monday for daily coronavirus deaths based on a seven-day moving average, as hospitalizations continue to surge in 34 states across the United States.
Trump’s response to the pandemic has also come under increasing scrutiny. In recent weeks, Trump has downplayed the threat of the virus, tying the surge in new cases to an increase in testing. However, public health officials and infectious disease experts dispute those claims, saying the rate of cases that test positive in the U.S., hospitalizations and deaths remain high in some states.
A coronavirus model once cited by the White House now projects more than 220,000 Americans could die of Covid-19 by Nov. 1, as new cases reach record highs in parts of the country while restrictions put in place to contain the virus are lifted.
Trump said Tuesday that state leaders across the U.S. are working “very, very hard,” adding the state of Florida “is in a big tough position.” He said the federal government is helping by providing its “tremendous” supplies of ventilators, gowns and other medical equipment needed by hospitals. He said some governors have indicated that they have enough bed capacity.
“At the beginning, people never had an experience like this, where we needed so many ventilators so fast,” he said. “The doctors and nurses and helpers have become incredibly good at the use of ventilators. It’s actually a really complicated procedure.”
He said he would not call for a nationwide shutdown, saying it would be “completely unsustainable, produce debilitating economic fallback and lead to catastrophic public health consequences, there are consequences to shutdowns.” He said the U.S. only initially shut down to prevent the overflow of hospitals and to allow the U.S. to meet the demands caused by the global pandemic, including the ventilators.
“We’ve saved potentially millions of lives with the initial shutdowns but now we’re very aware of this disease,” he said. “We understand the disease to a large extent. Nobody’s going to maybe ever fully understand it. But we’ll end up with a cure, we’ll end up with therapeutics, we’ll end up with a vaccine very soon.”
“A permanent shut down was really never an option in terms of what we’re doing right now,” he added.
Trump touted the nation’s coronavirus testing, saying the U.S. is leading the world with close to over 50 million tests. “We’re doing a tremendous amount of testing,” he said, adding he would be OK with doing more. “I don’t think any president, any administration has accomplished so much.”
He reiterated his claim that the virus would “disappear,” something public health officials and infectious disease experts dispute. Experts, including at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have warned cases and deaths could rise this fall.
“The virus will disappear. It will disappear,” Trump said.