Downplaying virus risk, Trump gets back to business as usual

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Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable discussion about "Transition to Greatness: Restoring, Rebuilding, and Renewing," at Gateway Church Dallas, Thursday, June 11, 2020, in Dallas.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON – At the White House, aides now routinely flout internal rules requiring face masks. The president's campaign is again scheduling mass arena rallies. And he is back to spending summer weekends at his New Jersey golf club.

Three months after President Donald Trump bowed to the realities of a pandemic that put big chunks of life on pause and killed more Americans than several major wars, Trump is back to business as usual — even as coronavirus cases are on the upswing in many parts of the country.

While the nation has now had months to prepare stockpiles of protective gear and ventilators, a vaccine still is many months away at best and a model cited by the White House projects tens of thousands of more deaths by the end of September.

Amid renewed fears of a virus resurgence, financial markets — frequently highlighted by Trump as a sign of economic recovery — suffered their worst drop since March on Thursday. The market opened on the upside Friday morning.

At the White House, though, officials played down the severity of the virus surge and sought to blame it on factors beyond Trump's forceful push to reopen the economy, which he's counting on to help him win reelection.

“I spoke to our health experts at some length last evening. They’re saying there is no second spike. Let me repeat that: There is no second spike," Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, said Friday on "Fox & Friends.”

He said COVID-19 cases are increasing only in certain spots of the country, but that nationally, the rates of new cases and fatalities have flattened out. “There is no emergency,” Kudlow said. "There is no second wave. I don’t know where that got started on Wall Street.”

Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who stressed the country has a positive testing rate under 6%, said the data on the virus show the nation is moving in the right direction. Still, Adams cautioned at a roundtable with Trump Thursday in Texas that while the country has flattened the curve on virus cases, “that doesn’t mean that COVID has gone away, that it’s any less contagious, that it’s any less deadly to vulnerable communities.”