As US cases rise, Trump says coronavirus coming under control
US President defends handling of crisis, repeats assertion that virus will eventually disappear
WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has pledged that the coronavirus was coming under control.
The US, with 3.7 million total cases, has almost as many infections as the next three hardest-hit countries combined - Brazil, India and Russia. The virus has claimed over 140,000 US lives since the pandemic started.
Mr Trump defended his handling of the pandemic in an interview broadcast on Sunday, including his statement that there were only embers of the virus popping up around the country.
"Florida became more flame-like, but it's - it's going to be under control," Mr Trump said on Fox News Sunday.
He repeated his assertion that the virus will eventually disappear.
"I'll be right eventually," he said. "It's going to disappear and I'll be right."
Experts at the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have warned cases and deaths could rise this autumn and winter.
Nearly all 20 forecasting models used by the CDC project rising deaths in the coming weeks.
Throughout the US, every metric to measure the outbreak is going in the wrong direction - rising cases, deaths, hospitalisations and test results.
At least 14 states have reported record hospitalisations so far this month, including Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Nevada and Texas.
Mr Trump said he did not agree with CDC Director Robert Redfield that this fall and winter will be one of the most difficult times in US public health, as hospitals deal with the seasonal flu on top of Covid-19 cases.
"I don't know and I don't think he knows," Mr Trump said.
Mr Trump also described the government's top infectious diseases expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, as "a little bit of an alarmist", Bloomberg reported.
He said: "Dr Fauci's made some mistake. But I have a very good - I spoke to him yesterday at length - I have a very good relationship with Dr Fauci.
"He's a little bit of an alarmist. That's okay. A little bit of an alarmist."
Dr Fauci has warned that cases could soon top 100,000 a day if Americans do not come together to take the steps necessary to halt the spread of the virus.
The country is averaging 60,000 new cases a day and reported a record one-day increase of 77,299 cases on Thursday.
Testing shortages and delayed results in some states are hampering efforts to curb the outbreak, similar to situations that frustrated state officials and health experts at the start of the pandemic in March and April.
Dr Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday that people were waiting up to a week to learn if they tested positive.
"The average test delay is too long," said Dr Collins.
"That really undercuts the value of the testing."
Instead of expanding testing, the Trump administration wants to block US$25 billion (S$35 billion) for states to conduct testing and contact tracing, according to reports in The Washington Post and the New York Times. - REUTERS