Shelagh Fogarty 1pm - 4pm
Donald Trump admits coronavirus in the US 'will get worse before it gets better'
22 July 2020, 00:24
Donald Trump has admitted coronavirus in the US "will get worse before it gets better" and urged Americans to wear masks where they cannot socially distance.
In what marks a major change in tone about the pandemic, Trump told assembled reporters: "It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better.
"Something I don't like saying about things but that's the way it is. That's what we have."
He also seemed to have changed his tone about the use of masks, after having previously suggested that wearing one was in someway a statement against him.
The question of him wearing a mask in public has also been cause of debate, and Trump was only pictured wearing one for the first time last week.
But on Tuesday evening, he pulled one out of his pocket to show the gathered press and said: "Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact."
He added: "I'm getting used to the mask."
The US has been the worst hit county by the virus, with almost 4 million confirmed cases and over 140,000 deaths.
But the reason for these huge numbers, Trump has claimed, is down to widespread testing across the country.
Trump's appearance at the White House briefing room podium have now made a return amid the rising numbers of cases, after the once-daily appearances largely ended in late April after the president's off-the-cuff suggestion that injecting toxic disinfectant could help treat the coronavirus.
White House insiders have said the format, venue and frequency of the president's forthcoming appearances have not been finalised.
And it is not clear whether he would field questions or share the stage with others, including US vice president Mike Pence and doctors Deborah Birx or Anthony Fauci.
But it all points to an apparent course reversal. For months, Mr Trump had heeded aides who pushed for him to all but ignore the virus and instead focus on the economy and more politically advantageous terrain.
Mr Trump will use the briefings "to speak directly to the American people about the federal government's coronavirus response and other pertinent issues", said White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews.
The return to briefings has been championed in the West Wing by senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, who advocated publicly last week for Mr Trump to return to the podium to more clearly highlight steps towards economic recovery, but also create a stage to display leadership by addressing Americans' concerns about Covid-19.
"His approval rating on the pandemic was higher when he was at the podium," Ms Conway said, in a tacit admission of what is largely unspoken aloud by Trump aides: that he is behind in both public and private surveys.
"It was at 51 per cent in March. And I think people want to hear from the president of the United States.
"It doesn't have to be daily," she added. "It doesn't have to be for two hours. But in my view, it has to be."