In the past week, President Donald Trump hosted an indoor campaign rally for thousands of cheering, unmasked supporters even as a deadly virus spread throughout the country. He began easing up on restrictions that had been in place at the White House since Washington instituted a stay-at-home order in response to the coronavirus in March, and he invited the president of Poland to a day of meetings. Then, Thursday, he flew to Wisconsin to brag about an economic recovery that he said was just around the corner.
But by Friday, it was impossible to fully ignore the fact that the pandemic the White House has for weeks insisted was winding down has done just the opposite.
The rising numbers in Texas, Florida and Arizona made that clear, as well as the reality that those are all states where the president and his Republican allies had urged people to return to normal.
In a reflection of a growing sense of anxiety over the new numbers, Vice President Mike Pence and members of the coronavirus task force held a public briefing for the first time in two months. But ever loyal to Trump’s desire for good news, Pence tried to tiptoe around the statistics that Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the task force coordinator, pointed to, showing surging cases and hospitalizations in Florida, Texas, Arizona and other states. “We have made a truly remarkable progress in moving our nation forward, ” the vice president said. “We’ve all seen the encouraging news as we open up, ” he added, dismissing any suggestion that the outbreaks across the South should prompt a return to the shutdowns that Trump so badly wants to be over. “The reality is we’re in a much better place. ”
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