The Coronavirus Task Force Reemerges After 2 Months, With Bad News and No President in Sight
Before Friday, the last time the White House Coronavirus Task Force contacted the country was April 27th. The United States had registered 978,680 coronavirus cases and 55,266 deaths, and the states were preparing to reopen because of the percentage of people who tested positive for COVID. 19 started to sink. "We continue to see evidence that our aggressive strategy works at a very high level," Trump said during the briefing.
Trump was particularly absent this time when the Task Force held its first television press conference in two months. The briefing, previously held at the White House, was instead held at the headquarters for Health and Human Services in the worst week for COVID-19 cases in the country, with daily cases significantly exceeding the previous peak in April and all erasing intermittent progress when flattening the curve. At least 2,446,706 cases are currently registered in America and at least 124,891 people have died.
When the country's best health officials came on camera to deliver an urgent message to young Americans, exercise social distancing, and wear masks to stop the surge in COVID-19 cases in 16 U.S. states, Trump was in white Home and prepared to speak an event about the American workforce. He was also on Twitter and sent an FBI message looking for 15 people who were said to have attempted to dismantle President Andrew Jackson's statue in Lafayette Square Park.
The night before, he sat with Fox News presenter Sean Hannity and repeated the false claim that the increase in new cases was due to further testing. "You will have a child with the runny nose and they will say it is coronavirus," said Trump. Two days earlier, Trump spoke to a crowded 3,000-seat church in Phoenix, Arizona that was full of student followers who sat close together and most of whom did not cover their noses and mouths.
Trump's unwillingness to use his bullying pulpit to convince more Americans to slow the spread of the virus comes at a precarious time for the country. Now it's up to public health officials like Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's leading infectious disease expert, recently said he hasn't spoken to Trump in weeks to convince Americans to practice social distancing and wear masks as the economy opens and cases continue to increase .
"The White House held briefings in April when it was good for them to have a good press, but it just stopped when they got bored," said Maciej Boni, epidemiologist at the Penn State Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics. "I think they missed the boat when they tried to be helpful."
Trump was rarely in sync with his health officials when he released key messages about COVID-19 to the public. The tortured utterances of Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci, when hearing Trump's medical recommendations to the Americans, was an integral part of the Task Force's daily television reviews in March and April. When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asked Americans to wear masks in April, Trump said he wouldn't and was never seen with one. In the same month, he visited a mask factory without wearing a mask. On June 20, he hosted a rally in Tulsa with more than 6,000 followers that met the CDC's definition of "highest risk".
This is a moment when Trump's power to reach the country could help reverse the dangerous new trend of the virus. In Florida, the percentage of people who tested positive for COVID-19 is increasing. Arizona hospital beds reach capacity. In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott ordered election operations in the most affected areas to be stopped because of concerns about hospital bed space, and asked all Texans to wear a mask, wash their hands regularly, and stay away from others. "The last thing we want the state to do is go backwards and do business," said Abbott. Authorities in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York are demanding travelers from states where cases have been in self-quarantine for two weeks. Even countries where infections remain low have hard work ahead, says Bonuses, and hires thousands of people to contact the infected and keep track of who they came in contact with to stem new outbreaks.
Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the task force, kicked off the press conference on Friday with a listing of the efforts the Trump administration has made since March to increase the availability of medical care and testing in the United States. The task force has met 17 times since the country started reopening, he said, and met with governors every Monday to exchange statistics and learn what resources are needed. Dr. Birx will travel to Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona to meet with local health agencies and community groups, emphasizing the need to practice social distancing and to be tested.
But when Pence came to the point of why the task force suddenly reappeared in America after two full months, there was no good news. Health officials are now seeing cases "steeply rising in the south" that highlight outbreaks in Texas, Florida, Arizona, California and 12 other states.
When asked why the Trump campaign continued to hold large events with people without masks, Pence said: “Freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly are enshrined in the United States Constitution. Elections are taking place this fall, ”said Pence, adding that he and Trump“ want to give people the freedom to participate in the political process ”.
Pence emphasized that the number of people who die from the virus every day has decreased, although the number of cases is increasing again because people are diagnosed earlier, hospitals exchange information about treatment, and some medications have been shown to help patients recover. "We can still take some comfort from the fact that the number of deaths is falling," said Pence, pointing out that fewer than 300 Americans died in two days this week from a peak of more than 2,500. "All 50 states are opening up safely and responsibly," said Pence.
His colleagues have painted a sharper picture. "We have some very worrying hotspots," said Alex Azar, secretary for health and human services. "We face a serious problem in certain areas," said Dr. Fauci. "We are not defenseless against the spread of the virus," said Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but warned Americans "to accept the importance of recommendations for social distancing."
Epidemiologists warn that as the number of cases increases, the number of people admitted to the hospital and dying from the disease may increase two or three weeks later. When asked if he was concerned that the mortality rate could increase, Pence said, "Our hope and prayer is that this is not the case." In addition to prayer, according to health officials, Americans can prevent an increase in deaths by staying away from each other and covering their mouths in public.
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