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The United States set another grim record on Thursday, with over 40,000 new coronavirus infections confirmed. And while governors across the country appeared to get the message, pressing pause on reopening plans, the president continued to dismiss the accelerating crisis.
“Coronavirus deaths are way down. Mortality rate is one of the lowest in the World. Our economy is roaring back and will NOT be shut down. “Embers” or flare-ups will be put out, as necessary,” Trump tweeted just after midnight on Friday.
But Trump’s tweet is completely at odds with all the evidence from the scientific community and a growing number of lawmakers from his own party.
The U.S. mortality rate is not one of the lowest in the world. It is, in fact, the ninth highest globally, and when looking only at the twenty countries currently most affected by COVID-19, the U.S. mortality rate is third-worst, behind only the U.K. and Spain, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S. added another 41,113 confirmed infections on Thursday, bringing the total confirmed coronavirus cases in the country to over 2.4 million. But on Thursday, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, told journalists that the real infection rate was likely 10 times higher, with up to 26 million people infected.
The surge in cases seen in recent days in Southern and Western states continued on Thursday, with the country’s three most populous states — California, Texas, and Florida — again contributing the bulk of the new cases.
Thirty states across the U.S. are now reporting increasing numbers of coronavirus cases, prompting some governors to finally act.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, had ignored demands to stop the reopening of his state’s businesses but made the surprise decision Thursday to pause the lifting of lockdown measures as COVID-19 cases threatened to overwhelm Texas’s hospitals.
That decision was mirrored in other states that are suffering rises in coronavirus outbreaks.
In North Carolina and Nevada, Democratic Govs. Roy Cooper and Steve Sisolak pressed pause on the next phase of reopening. Meanwhile, in Florida, where more than 10,000 new cases have been reported in the last two days, Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican who resisted locking down his state, announced he would not be moving to the next phase of reopening.
DeSantis attempted to deflect criticism he has received for failing to stem the spread of the coronavirus in the state.
“We are where we are,” DeSantis said during a press conference in Tampa on Thursday. “I didn’t say we’re going to go on to the next phase, you know, we’ve done a step-by-step approach and it was an approach that’s been reflective of the unique situation of each area.”
There was also a significant spike in the coronavirus death toll on Thursday, with 2,425 new cases added — a fourfold increase in figures reported for recent days.
The vast majority of the increase was accounted for by 1,800 probable coronavirus cases added to the total in New Jersey, after health officials there completed a review of thousands of death certificates of people who died with coronavirus symptoms but were not tested.
The death toll in the U.S. now stands at 124, 415, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
While Trump continues to dismiss the growing threat of the pandemic, at least some people within the administration have appeared to acknowledge that some national leadership is needed.
On Friday morning, Vice President Mike Pence will lead the first public briefing of the White House’s coronavirus task force in two months.
In March and April, Trump used daily coronavirus task force press briefings as a personal soapbox to air grievances against political opponents and the media, then abruptly stopped them after controversially suggesting people could cure COVID-19 by injecting themselves with bleach.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is heading up the task force, told the Senate last week that he had not spoken to Trump in weeks. The task force was initially going to wind down in May, but has been maintained as the pandemic continues to rage out of control.
When Trump canceled the daily press briefings in April, he said they were “not worth the time and effort.”
In the two months since, almost 80,000 people have died of coronavirus, while an additional 1.5 million people have been confirmed to be infected.
Cover: A tuber, wearing a mask to protect against the spread of COVID-19, passes a rack of life jackets as he prepares to float the Comal River, Thursday, June 25, 2020, in New Braunfels, Texas. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday that the state is facing a "massive outbreak" in the coronavirus pandemic and that some new local restrictions may be needed to protect hospital space for new patients. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)