Donald Trump went solo in the White House briefing room for his first coronavirus briefing since April, and his words reflected the reality that cases of COVID-19 are running rampant across the country.
“It will, probably, unfortunately get worse before it gets better. That is something I don’t like saying about things, but that is the way it is,” Trump told reporters from the lectern, with the conspicuous absence of Vice President Mike Pence and the medical professionals who made up the White House’s coronavirus task force.
With his poll numbers sliding, Trump said on Monday that he planned to return the 5 PM ET briefings that generated “record numbers watching.”
As sober as he was in his assessment, Trump continued to refer to the virus as the “China virus,” signifying its place of origin, and insisted that he took adequate steps at the onset of the outbreak in January. But he did not address whether states opened their his economies too soon, often at his urging, and without adequate measures put in place to social distance and encourage the wearing of masks.
At Tuesday’s briefing he did urge that wear masks. “Get a mask, whether you like a mask or not, they have an impact. And we need everything we can get,” Trump said.
For the first time, on Monday, Trump tweeted out a picture of himself wearing a mask, something that health officials have been urging for months. In May, Trump retweeted a post from Fox News’ Brit Hume that appeared to mock Joe Biden in public, and the president told a reporter that his mask wearing was an effort to be “politically correct.” Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, meanwhile, told reporters at the time that is was “a bit peculiar” that Biden wasn’t wearing a mask in his basement, when he was next to his wife, but “he’s wearing one outdoors when he’s socially distant. So I think that there was a discrepancy there.”
MSNBC and Fox News covered Trump’s initial comments live, but CNN did not. MSNBC broke away for a fact-check, and CNN eventually joined the briefing when Trump took a few questions from reporters.