The briefing offered little in the way of a coronavirus response update.
Instead, Trump spent the better part of an hour bashing reporters for unfair coverage, touting his administration’s response to the virus, calling the United States the ‘king of ventilators’, and, defending his administration’s response to the coronavirus, saying that China has more deaths “by a lot.” He attacked the press for reporting that the United States has the most deaths from coronavirus.
“We’re not number one, China’s number one, just so you understand. China’s number one by a lot. It’s not even close. They’re way ahead of us in terms of death. It’s not even close. You know it. I know it. They know it. But you don’t want to report it. Why? You’ll have to explain that. Someday I’ll explain it,” Trump said.
The President also delved into testing, reiterating an unproven claim that the US testing system is superior to any other country and bashed governors who said they are facing shortages of critical supplies to conduct tests.
“They don’t want to use all of the capacity that we’ve created. We have tremendous capacity,” Trump said. “They know that. The governors know that. The Democrat governors know that. They’re the ones that are complaining.”
Medical advisers have assured Trump that with the ramped-up production levels of tests and the technology expanding (rapid tests and self tests) that they are getting to the place needed to reopen, according to the administration official. That was the message conveyed by several administration officials at Friday’s White House briefing.
During his daily news conference on Thursday, Trump said the new guidelines amount to the start of the country’s “rejuvenation.”
“We’re starting our life again,” he said, even as it remains to be seen just how quickly any state returns to normal. The new guidelines, meant to speed up Trump’s goal of restarting the country, won’t be mandatory. Many governors have already extended restrictions into May or banded into regional collectives that will determine their own reopening plans.
Adding to the President’s frustration, White House medical experts have told him that the country is on track to be prepared for a phased reopening, but those experts and Trump are not in sync on the timing of the relaxation, including whether his May 1 target date for opening certain parts of the country can be met.
It was the clearest indication yet the President is laying the groundwork for blaming the dire economic conditions on decisions of Democratic governors, rather than taking steps to improve his actions and acknowledge failures of the administration’s handling of the crisis.
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, Kevin Liptak, Kristen, Ryan Nobles and Jeff Zeleny contributed to this story.