‘Wear a Mask,’ Trump Says as Coronavirus Briefings Resume

President Donald Trump told Americans to wear a mask whether they like it or not, at his first coronavirus-specific new conference since April.

“Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact,” Trump said at the White House briefing Tuesday. “We’re asking everybody when you are not able to socially distance, wear a mask.”

‘Wear a Mask,’ Trump Says as Coronavirus Briefings Resume

Face coverings became highly politicized after Trump resisted wearing one in public, but he tweeted Monday that “it is Patriotic to wear a face mask.” The reversal followed polls that showed his refusal to champion masks was out of step with concerns about rising case counts nationwide.

The briefing marked a shift in tone from the president’s prior briefings. Trump on Tuesday read from prepared remarks and said his administration was working “to get the outbreak in the Sun Belt under control.”

Trump is facing pressure to show progress in dealing with the pandemic as infections soar. Polls show Americans increasingly disapprove of his response.

He also touted the improvements in methods to treat people suffering from Covid-19, pointing to improvements in the use of ventilators and the use of remdesivir and dexamethasone, a steroid. Such measures have cut fatalities by 75% since April highs, Trump said at the briefing.

Increasing caseloads in parts of the country have prompted states to freeze or reverse plans to reopen their economies and caused many school districts to plan for online classes in the fall over the objections of the Trump administration.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said earlier Tuesday that Trump decided to resume the briefings to “deliver a lot of good news on therapeutics and vaccines” and tout what she called the administration’s “historic response.”

What’s unfolding has created fresh doubts about a U.S. economic recovery and renewed complaints from states that the Trump administration hasn’t done enough to facilitate more widespread testing. Delays in getting test results -- due to a lack of testing supplies and backlogs at labs -- have allowed the virus to spread before health officials are able to alert those who may have been exposed.

The growth in cases prompted New York to impose a two-week quarantine for certain travelers arriving in the state. Those coming from 31 states are currently on New York’s list.

In Florida, hospitalizations set a daily record, rising by 517 to 21,780. That’s the biggest increase on record, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. California reported 9,231 new cases on Tuesday, a 2.4% increase, bringing the total to 400,769, according to state health data. It is now on track to surpass New York as the state with the most infections in the U.S.

Far more people were infected with the novel coronavirus than previously reported in several parts of the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday. The agency conducted a survey that used the presence of antibodies in peoples’ blood to gauge the prevalence of the virus in 10 U.S. regions. It found infection levels to be highly variable from one region to the next, but higher than the reported number of cases across the board.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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