Coronavirus government response updates: Trump downplays any second wave of virus in fall as just ’embers’

By LIBBY CATHEY, ABC News

 
(WASHINGTON) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi touted that success in an interview Wednesday morning, and in a moment self-reflection, said she probably should be speaking out more strongly with President Donald Trump moving forward.

“We must start to insist on the truth with the president. This is what, the conclusion I came to on Easter Sunday. I was saying, other people are being political, they are not speaking out strongly enough. And then I realized, maybe I’m not either,” Pelosi told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“I don’t want to be political, we want to do this in a unified way, every bill bipartisan. But the fact is, if the president refuses to accept evidence, data, truth and the rest, we must insist on the truth because that is the path,” she said.

She suggested the president doesn’t want to be truthful about testing because “he doesn’t want to know the numbers, probably.”

As more states move ahead with plans to partly reopen their economies, Trump entered Wednesday facing questions around whether they were doing enough testing following an Oval Office meeting with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo who said he pressed him to have the federal government help states do more.

“You know, not everybody wants to do such significant testing. Testing is good in some cases — and in some cases it’s not. You have governors who don’t want to go all out on the testing because they think they can do it in a different manner and do it better,” the president said at Tuesday’s White House briefing.

But Trump also said he would speak to Georgia GOP Gov. Brian Kemp after the briefing to ask him whether people entering businesses being allowed to reopen, such as nail salons, would be tested, after Kemp said the state’s bowling alleys, tattoo parlors and barber shops could reopen on Friday.

“Are they doing testing before they go in? We have to find that out. That’s why — I’m speaking to the governor in a little while, and I’ll be asking him those questions.”

He also said he would sign an executive order “today” to temporarily “pause” immigration for 60 days for those seeking green cards.

Here are the latest developments in the government response:

Trump, CDC’s Redfield push back on headline that second wave of virus would be worse, Trump downplays risk

President Donald Trump opened Wednesday’s coronavirus task force briefing by trying to walk back a warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield about a possible second wave of the virus in the fall — before asking Redfield to take the podium himself and clarify his statement.

“When I commented yesterday that there was a possibility of the fall-winter, next fall-winter could be more difficult, more complicated, when we have two respiratory illnesses circulating at the same time, influenza and the coronavirus-19 — I think it’s really important to emphasize what I didn’t say,” Redfield said. “I didn’t say that this was going to be worse. I said it was going to be more difficult and potentially complicated because we’ll have flu and coronavirus circulating at the same time.”

Redfield had told the Washington Post in an interview Tuesday: “There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through… We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time.”

President Trump interjected that Redfield “was totally misquoted” — but when ABC News’ Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl asked Redfield directly about the above quote, Redfield said he was quoted correctly.

The president then insisted that the headline on the article — “CDC director warns that second wave of coronavirus could be even more devastating” was misleading. Redfield said the headline was “inappropriate.”

“What the doctor was saying, and I spoke to him at great length, he was saying if it should come back, you have the flu and the embers of corona, but in my opinion from everything I’ve seen, it can never be like anything like we witnessed right now,” the president said, predicting the novel coronavirus may not come back at all, and if it does it will be in “embers” or “pockets.”

“It’s nothing like — what we’ve just gone through, we will not go through. You could have some embers of corona and a big flu system and if they combine and come together, it’s not great but we will not go through what we went through for the last two months,” Trump added. “It might not come back at all. He’s talking about a worst-case scenario where you have a big flu and you have some corona.”

Speaking after Redfield, White House coronavirus coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx told reporters that if the coronavirus returned in the fall, medical professionals would be able to find it earlier.

“When we first interacted with this virus for the first time in the February and March timeframe, we didn’t have an understanding of its transmissibility all of its symptoms. We do now,” Birx said.

While she did not respond to the president saying that a second wave of coronavirus would not be “anything near what we went through,” Birx said the country would be prepared.

“(We are) preparing for that potential right now,” she said.

Later in the briefing, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told reporters that the coronavirus will still be in the United States this fall.

“I am convinced of that because of the degree of transmissibility that it has, the global nature,” he said.

While Fauci said the virus would return, he agreed with Trump and Birx that the U.S. would be better prepared to confront it.

“What happens with that will depend on how we are able to contain it when it occurs. And what we are saying is that in the fall, we will be much, much better prepared to do the kind of containment compared to what happened to us this winter,” he said.

Trump touts ‘Opening Up America Again’ guidelines as states plan to reopen, but breaks from Georgia’s Kemp

Switching gears to the new White House guidance on reopening, Trump said it’s been “encouraging” and “beautiful” to watch states lift restrictions and reminded that specific plans for reopening will be left up to individual governors.

“It’s been encouraging to watch states begin to open up and it has been — it’s a beautiful thing to see as restrictions are lifted — we must maintain vigilance and continue practicing social distancing,” Trump said. “The governors are going to adhere or do what they think is best. I want them to do what they think is best.”

As the U.S. death toll passed 46,000 Wednesday, a key model from the University of Washington used by the White House is now suggesting a dozen states — including Georgia — wait until at least June 8 to relax current measures.

Trump criticized the Brian Kemp, the Republican governor of Georgia, for his decision to reopen several different businesses amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“I told the governor of Georgia. Brian Kemp that I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities which are in violation of the phase one guidelines for the incredible people of Georgia they’re incredible people,” he said.

The governor announcement would allow nail salons, massage parlors, bowling alleys and gyms to open on Friday. The president called the Kemp after his press conference last night. “It’s just too soon. I think it’s too soon,” Trump said, “safety has to predominate.”

“I told the governor very simply that I disagree with his decision, but he has to do what he thinks is right,” he added.

Fauci then weighed in, saying, “The mitigation that we out in with the first 15 days and then the 30 day mitigation program of physical distancing worked. So it got us to where we are today. It is a successful formula. It is the basis for our being able to say that we can now think seriously about reopening America.”

He reminded that the reopening program is not going to be like a “light switch” across the country and cautioned governors to proceed in a “very careful, measured way.”

“I know there’s an urge we all have to get out there and get it over with. Let’s get back to normal for a lot of good reasons, because there’s a lot of suffering, economic and otherwise,” Fauci said.

“As I pleaded early on, weeks ago, I pleaded with the American public, governors, mayors. Although I know one has the tendency to leapfrog over things, don’t do that. Do it in a measured way. This is a successful formula,” he saids.

Asked directly about Kemp’s decision to start reopening businesses with physical contact on Friday, Fauci said, “I would advise him as a health official and as a physician not to do that.”

Cuomo calls Oval Office meeting with Trump a “productive visit,” says they have a plan on testing

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in his daily coronavirus press conference from Albany, called his Oval Office meeting Tuesday with President Trump a “productive visit” and said the two have a response plan moving forward despite their political differences.

“To me, a productive visit means we spoke truth, we spoke facts, we made decisions, and we have a plan going forward. And that was accomplished yesterday, and I feel good about it personally,” Cuomo said Wednesday.

“And by the way, these are people in the White House who politically don’t like me. That’s the fact you see in the president’s tweets. He’s often tweeted very unkind things about me and my brother. Politically, he does not, we’ve had conflicts. Back and forth. But we sat with him, sat with his team, and that was put aside,” Cuomo continued. “We’re not setting up a possible marriage here. Just do the job.”

Cuomo went on to say that he will not succumb to any political pressure to rush into reopening the state, acknowledging public unrest but saying that “more people will die if we’re not smart” — after the president tweeted this morning that the country is starting to “open for business.”

“This is not going to be over anytime soon. I know people want out. I get it. I know people want to get back to work,” Cuomo said. “We’re not going to have people lose their lives because we acted imprudently.”

Trump tweets he’ll sign immigration order today, backs away from broad ban to target green card holders

President Trump tweeted this morning to confirm that he intends to sign his promised executive order to “pause” green card applications for 60 days.

 

I will be signing my Executive Order prohibiting immigration into our Country today. In the meantime, even without this order, our Southern Border, aided substantially by the 170 miles of new Border Wall & 27,000 Mexican soldiers, is very tight – including for human trafficking!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2020

 

Trump said that in addition to the new order, which appears to fall far short of the total ban he at first teased, security at the southern border “is very tight.”

Security at the southern border, which aims to prevent undocumented immigration, and green card applications are two distinct issues — but as Trump looks to make the connection, it demonstrates that the president is politically eager to tie immigration to the ongoing pandemic.

Though it was not mentioned in the tweet, Trump said at Tuesday’s briefing that the order would not apply to farmers.

The Trump administration also barred asylum seekers from the U.S. last month, citing a drain on the country’s medical resources.

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