Washington: The US has “passed the peak” on new coronavirus cases, President Donald Trump has said and predicted that some states would reopen this month.
The US has over 637,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases and over 30,826 deaths, the highest for any country in the world.
At the daily White House coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, Trump said new guidelines to reopen the country would be announced on Thursday after he speaks to governors.
“We’ll be the comeback kids, all of us,” he said. “We want to get our country back.”
The Trump administration has previously fixed May 1 as a possible date to reopen the world’s largest economy, but the president said some states may be able to return to normalcy earlier than that.
“The battle continues, but the data suggest that nationwide we have passed the peak on new cases. Hopefully, that will continue, and we will continue to make great progress,” Trump said.
These encouraging developments, he said, has put the US in a very strong position to finalise the guidelines for states on reopening the country.
“Hopefully that will continue, and we will continue to make great progress,” Trump said.
Dr Deborah Brix, a member of the White House Task Force on Coronavirus, said that over the last five or six days there has been decline in new cases across the country.
“This has been very reassuring for us. At the same time, we know that mortality and the fatalities that we are facing across the United States continue,” she said.
Nine states have less than 1000 cases and less than 30 new cases per day. Some states like California and Washington State, Oregon never really had a peak because of so much work that their populations did to decrease and keep the new cases down, she said.
Two states, Rhode Island and Providence are in a unique situation, she said. First, they had increasing cases from the New York City area and now they have new increasing cases from the Boston area. They are caught between two incredible hotspots in the country, she said.
Reiterating that this is a highly contagious virus, Brix said in social gatherings and coming together there is always a chance that asymptomatic person can spread the virus unknowingly.
No one is intending to spread the virus. We know if you are sick you will stay home. But to all of you that are out there that would like to join together and just have that dinner party for 20 don’t do it yet. Continue to follow the presidential guidelines. We really appreciate the work of the American people,” Brix said.
Asked why the US accounted for such a significant proportion of the global death toll of 136,908, Trump accused other countries of lying about their mortality rate.
“Does anybody really believe the numbers of some of these countries?” he said, in an apparent reference to China where the pandemic originated and spread across the world.
Noting that this has been a horrible time to see such death and destruction in the country, the President said the medical and healthcare advances the US has made are critical to the continued progress.
The US has rapidly developed the most expansive and accurate testing system anywhere in the world and have completed more than 3.3 million tests.
“To date, we have authorised 48 separate coronavirus tests and the FDA is working with 300 companies and labs to widen our capacity still further,” Trump said.
The Abbott Labs on Wednesday announced that it is has developed an antibody test that will determine if someone has been previously infected with the coronavirus and potentially developed immunity.
“It is a great test. The company says these tests could be available to screen up to 20 million people in a matter of weeks,” he added.
The administration, he said, is also distributing vast amounts of medical supplies to states across the country. Through project air bridge, which has been an amazing success they have completed 44 flights, and an additional 56 like scheduled in the near future. he said.
In total, through all channels, the federal government has developed and delivered 39.4 million N95 masks, 431 million gloves, 57 million surgical masks and 10.2 million gowns. It ordered 500 million masks and they will be coming shortly and have distributed 100 million masks, he said.
Trump said his administration is using every available authority to accelerate the development, study and develop therapies and treatments.
“Ultimately, what we want to come up with is a safe vaccine, but frankly, the therapies to me are the most important because it takes care of people right now,” he said.
“The vaccines have to be tested because it takes a longer period of time, but we have some great potential therapies already, and we will see how they are working. We will be able to report on that over the next week or two,” he said, adding that at least 35 clinical trials of promising therapies are now underway.