WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence said at a Sunday briefing that hard weeks ahead could signal the U.S. turning a corner.
“We’re starting to see light at the end of the tunnel,” Trump said. Pence added, “We are beginning to see glimmers of progress.”
The president offered condolences to the families of those killed by the virus, urging the nation to pray for them and "ask God to comfort them in their hour of grief.”
“With the faith of our families and the spirit of our people and the grace of our God we will endure,” the president said. "We will overcome.”
Earlier Sunday, Surgeon General Jerome Adams told CNN, “This is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives, quite frankly.” That is because deaths tend to lag the rate of infection by about a week.
The number of people infected in the U.S. has exceeded 337,000, with the death toll climbing past 9,600. More than 4,100 of those deaths are in the state of New York, but a glimmer of hope there came on Sunday when Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state registered a small dip in new fatalities over a 24-hour period.
Former Vice President Joe Biden suggested his party's presidential nominating convention, already pushed from July into August because of the outbreak, may have to move fully online to avoid packing thousands of people into an arena in Milwaukee.
Biden has all but clinched his party's presidential nomination and held an online town hall from his home in Delaware at the same time Trump was addressing reporters.
Biden said the president “has been awful slow” to use the powers of his office to compel private companies to make protective equipment for doctors and nurses, adding that “we should be much more aggressive.” Trump has often explained that by design the federal government serves as back-up for states.
Trump discounted press questions regarding the slow pace of the federal government’s response to the pandemic, praising federal officials who coordinate the distribution of hard-to-find supplies.
“The people that you’re looking at, FEMA, the military, what they’ve done is a miracle,” Trump told reporters. “What they’ve done is a miracle in getting all of this stuff. What they have done for states is incredible.”
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said “We need to be prepared that, since it unlikely will be completely eradicated from the planet, that as we get into next season, we may see the beginning of a resurgence,” Fauci said. “That’s the reason why we’re pushing so hard in getting our preparedness much better than it was.”
The Defense Department released new requirements that all individuals on its property “will wear cloth face coverings when they cannot maintain six feet of social distance in public areas or work centers.” That is in compliance with new federal guidelines that Americans use face coverings when venturing out.
Trump was not wearing one while answering questions as he held news briefings but neither were the reporters who questioned him on it. He did say that his wife, Melania encouraged mask use.