WASHINGTON (News Nation) — President Donald Trump Tuesday resumed coronavirus briefings at the White House, taking the podium alone to speak on the administration’s efforts to mitigate the COVID-19 outbreak in the Sun Belt, and the current state of vaccines and therapeutics.
The president opened the briefing by outlining what he planned to discuss: what his administration is doing “to get the outbreak in the Sun Belt under control.”
He then touched on the work being done by lawmakers to advance the phase 4 economic relief package, stressing “both sides want to get it done.” He thanked frontline doctors and nurses for their bravery, and pledged the vaccine the U.S. is working to develop is in honor of every life lost to COVID-19.
“The vaccines are coming,” Trump said, “A lot sooner than anyone thought was possible.”
“[It] is a vicious and dangerous illness but we’ve learned a great deal about it and who it targets, and we are in the process of developing a strategy that’s going to be very very powerful, that we develop as we go along. Some areas of the country are doing well, some areas are doing less well. It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better — something I don’t like saying about things,” Trump said.
In his briefing, the president called on Americans to wear a mask when they are unable to socially distance.
“Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact, they’ll have an effect,” Trump said. “And we need everything we can get.”
The president touched on the U.S. mortality rate from the virus, noting that fatalities nationwide have fallen 75% since April.
According to the Johns Hopkins Mortality Analyses, the U.S is currently third in terms of COVID-19 deaths per 100,000, behind Chile and the U.K.
“The fact is that many countries are sufferering very, very, very badly. We’ve done much better than most, and with the fatality rate at a lower rate than most, it’s something that we can talk about, but we’re working with them, helping countries that people don’t even know about,” Trump said, explaining that the U.S. is helping other countries with finding ventilators.
The Johns Hopkins data currently shows the U.S. at a 3.7% observed case fatality rate — tied with Peru for the 9th highest rate worldwide based on the data available at time of publication.
Trump highlighted the changes in the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. from April until now. He noted that the age range of those infected is now trending younger compared to April, and that the rate of cases requiring hospitalization has reduced.
“These trends could change without our continued and relentless focus,” Trump said. “In recent weeks, we’ve seen a concerning rise in cases in many parts of our south, south west, and west. This growth in cases first began to appear in mid June primarily among 18-35 year olds, many of whom were asymptomatic.”
The president acknowledged a spike in cases in the rest of the western hemisphere, noting that Mexico has been “hit very, very, very hard.” Trump said the U.S. is taking what we learned about the virus in the first part of the pandemic and sharing that knowledge with other countries.
Mexico ranks sixth in terms of COVID-19 deaths per 100,000, Johns Hopkins data shows.
The president detailed how his administration is assisting the states currently experiencing an outbreak. He said he’s sent senior officials to help governors and hospital administrators in nine states over the last several weeks, and noted they currently have zero unfulfilled requests from governors.
“Frankly, we’re stocked up and ready to go,” Trump said.
He also noted that the administration is closely monitoring hospital capacity in the most impacted states, and stressed that hospitals remain open for elective surgeries and other procedures so that people can get the medical treatment and routine care they need.
On the subject of vaccines and therapeutics, the president explained two vaccine candidates are entering clinical trials at the end of July, and four other vaccine candidates will enter final trials in the following weeks.
“We’re mass producing all the top candidates so that the first approved vaccine will be available immediately,” the president said, explaining that the military is on standby and ready to help distribute the vaccine once it is ready.
Asked by the media if he would consider a promising vaccine being developed by China, Trump said, “we’re willing to work with anyone.”