President Trump on Monday told reporters he will resume holding daily coronavirus task force press briefing this week, starting on Tuesday, marking the first time since late April he will provide updates to the American public as multiple states grapple with record-breaking spikes of confirmed virus cases.
“Frankly, a lot of the country is doing well, a lot of people don’t say as you understand, but we have had this big flareup within Florida, Texas, couple of other places, and so I think what we are going to do is I’ll get involved and we’ll start doing briefings,” Trump said to reporters in the Oval Office. “We had very successful briefings. I was doing them, and we had a lot of people watching. Record numbers watching. In the history of cable television, there’s never been anything like it.”
Trump’s revival of the press briefings comes as Florida, California, Texas, and Arizona have reported spikes in positive cases. Florida has now become the nation’s latest coronavirus epicenter as it reported six straight days of more than 10,000 new cases.
The press briefing would now be focused mostly on the development of a coronavirus vaccine and drug treatment, according to Trump. He signaled that he may invite companies who are involved in the vaccine development to provide information to the press and the American public, along with explaining the “positive things” his administration is doing to combat the virus.
“Part of the briefing I think much more so than last time, because last time we were nowhere with vaccines or therapeutics and let’s say that ended six weeks ago. It’s a great way to get information out to the public as to where we are with the vaccine, with the therapeutics, and generally speaking where we are,” Trump said. “So I think we’ll start that probably starting tomorrow, I’ll do it at 5 o’clock like we were doing, we had a good slot. A lot of people were watching.”
During the early days of the pandemic in March and April, the President along with Vice President Mike Pence and members of the coronavirus task force held daily briefings from the White House where they provided updates to the public on the federal government’s response. Those briefings sometimes lasted two hours in most cases and was dominated by lengthy and combative exchanges with reporters.
“And I’ll be discussing the — as I call it, the China virus, the China plague. I’ll be discussing it, and I’ll also be discussing perhaps some other things,” Trump stated. “But, you know, we’re doing very well in so many different ways, but unfortunately, this is something that’s very tough, but we’re going to get it solved, and I think we’re going to get it solved in numerous ways, but the two best would be vaccines and therapeutics. So we’ll be having that.”
Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway has publicly pushed for the president to resume the televised coronavirus press briefing. On Friday, Conway told Fox News that reviving the daily briefing would help the president’s declining poll numbers.
“The president’s numbers were much higher when he was out there briefing everybody on a day-by-day basis about the coronavirus. Just giving people the information,” Conway told Fox News, adding that some in the administration disagree with her suggestion. “I think the president should be doing that.”
The reviving of the press briefing comes as new polls show over his approval numbers have fallen since Trump curtailed the daily coronavirus briefing nearly three months ago. In a new ABC/Washington Post poll released last Friday, only 38 percent approve of Trump’s response, down from 51 percent, when the task force briefings were regularly taking place in late March, a 13-point drop.
As of Monday, the U.S has reported more than 3.7 million positive coronavirus cases and over 140,000 deaths from the virus.