President Donald Trump expressed confidence that the coronavirus won’t hit the US with the same intensity if it returns in the fall, suggesting the deadly disease “might not come back at all.”
Trump’s assertion Wednesday at a White House briefing is at odds with medical experts who say the virus could pose a threat to the US for months and years to come. He made the comment after accusing the Washington Post of mischaracterizing a warning to that effect from Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We’re going to be watching for it. But it’s also possible it doesn’t come back at all,” Trump said. If Covid-19 does return, it “won’t be coming back in the form that it was” but in “smaller doses we can contain.”
Asked how he could be certain, Trump said, “I didn’t say it’s not. I said if it does, it’s not going to come back on anything near what we went through.”
“If it should come back in some form, we want to snuff it out very quickly before anything can happen,” the president later added.
Public-health experts believe the virus, which has infected more than 846,000 people in the US, is likely seasonal. They have warned that a return to full normalcy could take months or years without a vaccine. But officials on the White House coronavirus task force have said the country will be better equipped to address a second outbreak, thanks in part to the development of treatments and surveillance efforts.
”We will have coronavirus in the fall. I am convinced of that because of the degree of transmissibility that it has,” said Anthony Fauci, the task force’s top infectious disease expert. “What happens with that will depend on how we’re able to contain it when it occurs.”
A possible resurgence in the fall could imperil the president’s re-election campaign, which hinges on how well he manages the crisis. Trump’s political opponents have already seized on his past claims from January and February that the virus was “under control.”
Trump began the briefing by asking Redfield to clarify his comments to the Post about the dangers the virus could pose in the fall.
Redfield told reporters he didn’t say a possible fall outbreak “was going to be worse,” but could be potentially “more difficult” and “complicated” because it coincides with flu season. The paper accurately quoted him, Redfield said, but the headline lacked context.