White House task force takes on different tones as U.S. sees record high in new COVID-19 cases

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The government’s coronavirus task force on Friday failed to present a presidential and no backdrop to the White House to inform the public for the first time since April – in accordance with the administration’s effort to show that ‘He is paying attention to the latest peak of cases, but is not on a warpath that should prevent the country from reopening its economy.The briefing at the Department of Health and Human Services took place as the number of new confirmed coronavirus infections per day in the United States reached an all-time high of 40,000 – even more than during the deadliest period April and May.

In light of the new wave, members of the task force have carefully chosen their words to inform the public about COVID-19, which has become both a public health and political problem.

Vice President Mike Pence had the trickiest line to follow. He acknowledged an upsurge of new cases in the south and west, while supporting the president’s desire to kick-start the economy and keep it running, not to mention that it would also boost prospects for re-election.

“As we see new cases increasing and following them very carefully, the American people may tend to think that we are back to where we were two months ago – in times of great losses and great hardship for the American people, “said Pence.

WATCH | Pence says the United States is in a “much better place” than 2 months ago:

Thanking President Donald Trump and the American people, Vice President Mike Pence said that despite the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, the United States is in better shape now than it used to be. in April. 0:59

But the vice president also noted the positive employment figures and added, “The reality is that we are in a much better place. ”

Not being bound by politics, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease specialist, had a more cautious tone.

“As you can see, we are facing a serious problem in some areas,” said Fauci.

But he also took care not to blame the recent spike in rallies where people have not worn face masks or adhered to social distancing guidelines.

WATCH | Fauci calls on young people to avoid the risks of contracting COVID-19:

The leading American infectious disease specialist has called on young people to accept “social responsibility” amid a wave of positive tests for the coronavirus. 1:03

Pence cleverly avoided the pointed questions about the apparent dissonance between the administration’s warnings that Americans are heeding the advice of local officials and Trump’s decision to hold a political rally last week in Tulsa, Okla. , Faced with the objection of health officials.

And at a Trump event in Arizona on Tuesday, thousands of young participants violated Phoenix’s mandate to wear masks.

Stressing that Trump was “taking the appropriate action,” Pence invoked the constitutional protection of freedom of expression, saying “we always want to give people the freedom to participate in the political process.”

Growing anxiety

The White House in the past two months has virtually eliminated coronavirus task force briefings and dramatically reduced the public appearances of its medical experts as Trump focused on reviving the country.

The return of the briefing was a sign that the administration knows that it cannot ignore growing anxiety over the increase in the number of cases while the governors of certain states suspend or delay the reopening.

But briefings should not come back with the same daily frequency. And it’s no coincidence, officials said, that Friday’s briefing was held at the Department of Health and Human Services rather than the White House. The president is still determined to threaten an economic resurgence even in the face of the outbreak of infections.

Pence leaves the scene as other members of the White House coronavirus task force watch in Washington on Friday. (Susan Walsh / The Associated Press)

Pence said 16 states are seeing worrying increases – up from 12 states on Wednesday. He said there is still work to be done, but it is important to reflect on what the federal and state governments and health care workers have done to respond to the pandemic.

“This time of the coronavirus pandemic is different” from the dark days when New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and New Orleans were struggling under the weight of the epidemic, he said.

America has since accelerated testing to 500,000 tests per day, which has helped increase the number of new cases reported, said Pence.

WATCH | Weeks of Houston hospitals far from the limit:

Health care officials in Houston say that most of the city’s hospitals work with 90% of the beds in occupied intensive care units. 1:47

He plans to travel next week to Texas, Arizona and Florida; previously scheduled trips to these COVID-19 hotspots were initially intended to be more political in nature, but will now focus more on the virus. Pence said that Dr. Deborah Birx, the task force coordinator, will accompany him to Texas and Arizona.

“I just encourage every American to keep praying,” said Pence in closing. “Pray for all the families who have lost loved ones. Pray for our front line health workers. And just keep on praying that, by the grace of God, every day, we would each do our part to heal our land. ”

Returning to the White House, Trump hosted a job event in the East Room and delivered this must-have message:

“We have a little bit of work to do and we will do it. We have very good numbers coming out in terms of the return, the return of our nation and I think it’s going very quickly and it’s going to be very good. “

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