President Trump said Wednesday that the US had passed the peak of the coronavirus pandemic — and that some states would reopen before his May 1 deadline.
“While we must remain vigilant, it is clear that our strategy is working, and very strongly working. New cases are declining throughout the New York metropolitan area. Cases in Detroit and metro Denver areas are flat. Washington, DC, Baltimore, St. Louis is showing progress. New cases in New Orleans are declining. The data suggests that nationwide we have passed the peak on new cases,” Trump said during the daily briefing of the Coronavirus Task Force in the Rose Garden.
“These developments have put us in a strong position to finalize guidelines for states opening the country, which we will be announcing tomorrow. We will have a news conference tomorrow during the afternoon,” he said.
“We will be announcing guidelines. We will be talking about various states. It’s very exciting. It’s a horrible time to see such death and distraction, especially when you come out of what was the greatest economy in the history of the world.”
The president’s announcement came as confirmed cases in the US rose to more than 605,000 and the death toll topped 27,000.
“We’ll be opening up states, some sooner than others,” Trump added, saying that some states could reopen before his stated goal of May 1, and that many governors were “chomping [sic] at the bit” to reopen.
Asked for evidence that the peak had arrived, Trump said the task force was “looking at graphs and models.”
Trump’s position has shifted this week.
He said Monday he had total authority to decide when states would reopen, not individual governors.
On Tuesday, he contended that he had authorized governors to make their own decisions.
Dr. Deborah Birx, a task force member, sounded a more cautionary note during the briefing.
“I will remind the people again this is a highly contagious virus. Social gatherings, coming together, there is a chance an asymptomatic person can spread it unknowingly. we know if you are sick, you will stay home. Don’t have that dinner party for 20 yet,” she said, while adding that some states had very few cases.
“We see as a country we are improving. Metro areas are improving, communities and counties are improving, but that also still requires everyone to social distance,” she said.
“In the end we have states that have very few cases and very few new cases. These are ones the president is referring to. These are the groups we are working with very specifically. Each of these governors and these mayors will have to make decisions after generalized guidelines are put out so they can do what is best for their communities. They are the front line.”