President Trump at his first coronavirus briefing since April said the pandemic will “unfortunately get worse before it gets better” — a reversal from previous statements as cases skyrocket in southern states.
Trump also on Tuesday asked Americans to wear masks, despite him holding recent events without a mask requirement.
The U.S. has recorded the most coronavirus deaths and cases in the world. As of Tuesday, more than 140,000 Americans have died and there have been more than 3.8 million confirmed cases.
“It will probably, unfortunately get worse before it gets better — something I don’t like saying about things, but that’s the way it is,” Trump said.
Last month, the president had said that the virus was “fading away” and “dying out.”
In recent weeks, Florida and Texas have been reporting more than 10,000 cases each day — a troubling trend as hospitals face a surge of patients.
Trump on Monday had tweeted that wearing a mask is “patriotic.”
“We’re asking everybody that when you are not able to socially distance, wear a mask. Get a mask,” Trump said at Tuesday’s briefing. “Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact. They’ll have an effect, and we need everything we can get.”
At his recent indoor rally in Tulsa, Okla., attendees were not required to wear a mask. Trump has only worn a mask in public once since the pandemic started.
Trump also on Tuesday said they’re “asking Americans to use masks, socially distance and employ vigorous hygiene, wash your hands every chance you get, while sheltering high-risk populations.”
“We are imploring young Americans to avoid packed bars and other crowded indoor gatherings,” he said. “Be safe and be smart.”
Trump said the administration will “stop at nothing to save lives and shield the vulnerable, which is so important. We have learned so much about this disease, and we know who the vulnerable are, and we are going to indeed shield them.”
“As one family, we mourn every precious life that’s been lost,” he added. “I pledge in their honor that we will develop a vaccine and we will defeat the virus. We’re doing very well with vaccine development and therapeutic development.”
As far as another economic relief package, Trump said his team is “working night and day” with Congressional leaders on it.
“We’re working very hard on it,” he said. “We’re making a lot of progress.”
He called the economic relief package “Phase 4.”
“I think we’re going to get it done,” Trump said. “We’ll protect our workers, our schools and our families, and protect them very strongly.”