President Donald Trump said the U.S. has “passed the peak” of the coronavirus outbreak, which has infected more than 632,000 people in America.
“While we must remain vigilant, it is clear that our aggressive strategy is working,” Trump said at a White House news briefing with coronavirus task force on Wednesday. “The battle continues, but the data suggests that nationwide we have passed the peak on new cases.”
Trump said new cases are “declining” in New York, which has more confirmed cases than any country outside the U.S. He added that cases are “flat” in Denver and Detroit, while other cities including Baltimore and Philadelphia “are showing great signs of success.”
“Some states are looking at other states and they’re saying I can’t imagine what they’re going through because they’re not in that position. They’re in very good shape,” he said. “I would say that we have 20 states, at least, but you really have 29 that are in extremely good shape. You have others that are getting much better.”
Trump said he will discuss guidelines for reopening the country on Thursday. The governors of seven states on the East Coast and three states on the West Coast have announced regional working groups to coordinate the reopening of the regions.
“My administration is using every available authority to accelerate the development, study and delivery of therapies,” he said, adding that at least 35 clinical trials of treatments are underway.
Over the past six days, the rate of new cases has declined across the country, Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said, adding that nine states have less than 1,000 cases each and report fewer than 30 new cases per day. However, she said the administration is concerned about Providence, Rhode Island, which is in a “unique situation,” caught between two hot spots, New York and Boston.
She added that now is the time to continue practicing social distancing.
“Social gatherings, coming together, there is always a chance that an asymptomatic person can spread the virus unknowingly,” she said. “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.”
More than 3.3 million tests have been “conducted and completed,” Vice President Mike Pence said, adding that 24% of all counties in the country have not reported a single case of Covid-19. He also said half of all states in the country have fewer than 2,500 cases each.
“We’re going to reflect on the fact that, as the president said, there will be areas of the country that will require continued mitigation and strong efforts and there will be other areas of the country that will be given guidance for greater flexibility, the president has so directed our team,” Pence said.
Even as the infection rate appears to fall across the country, according to the White House, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio acknowledged earlier Wednesday that the city is likely undercounting Covid-19 deaths as the city struggles to test everyone.
On Tuesday, New York City officials said they would begin counting “probable” Covid-19 deaths, which are people “who had no known positive laboratory test,” but are believed to have died due to Covid-19. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene estimates that there have been 3,778 probable Covid-19 deaths since March 11 that weren’t previously counted in the city’s official tally. There have been 6,589 confirmed Covid-19 deaths in New York City so far.
“I want the whole truth out. Wherever the facts take us, I want the whole truth out,” de Blasio said Wednesday at a news briefing. “Absolutely, I believe there are more people who died because of Covid-19, in one way or another, because of something that happened to them related to Covid-19.”