On Tuesday, Donald Trump made an appearance at the White House podium, after suspending briefings for weeks, to issue a warning about the state of COVID-19. Trump is now urging Americans to wear masks in public as he believes the spread of coronavirus will worsen before improvements start to show.
“It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better,” he stated. “Something I don’t like saying about things, but that’s the way it is.”
Prior to his announcement, Trump repeatedly downplayed the extent of the disease, especially by not wearing a mask himself. But now, he proposes that young citizens avoid large gatherings, and Americans wear a mask as he is “getting used” to wearing one himself.
His return to the podium also comes in an attempt to counter the backlash surrounding his administration’s response to COVID-19 as cases continue to rise in multiple states.
“We’re asking everybody that when you are not able to socially distance, wear a mask, get a mask,” Trump said. “Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact, they’ll have an effect. We need everything we can get.”
USA Today notes that Trump “offered a generally rosy assessment of his administration’s response to the virus,” despite the warnings. He mentioned that scientists have “learned so much about this disease” and believe that vaccines will be available “a lot sooner than anyone thought possible.”
Trump frequently quoted his claim that coronavirus will eventually “disappear,” which has received backlash from his Democratic opponents in the past. Now, they believe his sudden reversal is too late.
“Moments after reading from his script and saying the outbreak would get worse before it gets better, Trump just reverted to his lie that the virus will simply ‘disappear’ – an assumption that has had deadly consequences for thousands of innocent Americans,” Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates tweeted.
Elsewhere, Trump spoke briefly on the next steps of a new coronavirus stimulus that congressional leaders are negotiating with the White House, as the increased benefits are set to expire July 31. House lawmakers are deliberating on extending unemployment insurance and a federal program that aims to keep small businesses going.
He also said that congressional leaders are searching for a replacement for the additional $600 that millions of Americans have received since March, on top of their weekly unemployment benefits.
“We’re working very hard on it, we’re making a lot of progress,” Trump said. “I also know that both sides want to get it done.”