As coronavirus cases surged in recent weeks, President Donald Trump and his allies had been pointing to declining deaths as a hopeful sign the country was getting more adept at fighting the virus. But public health experts had steadily cautioned that progress could be reversed, since deaths are a lagging indicator of the pandemic’s trajectory.
After regularly downplaying the virus, Trump on Tuesday acknowledged that outbreaks will likely only intensify before the country can start containing the virus.
“Some areas of our country are doing very well, others are doing less well,” Trump said Tuesday evening during the return of his press conferences on the pandemic response, nearly three months after the regular briefing sessions ended. “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.”
The U.S. has been regularly logging over 60,000 new daily infections over the past week, and the country’s capacity to test for and trace the virus faces renewed strain. All told, the U.S. has reported more than 3.8 million cases and over 140,000 deaths. Modelers earlier this month projected the nationwide death toll is on track to surpass 200,000 by Election Day.
Infections have been ticking up in the vast majority of states, prompting some governors to reverse their opposition to statewide mask mandates and other officials to clamp down again on bars and other businesses.
Both caseloads and hospitalizations remain high in Arizona, California, Florida and Texas, the intensest hot spots for the virus. Those states are accounting for nearly 40 percent of new reported deaths, while deaths are on the rise in about half the states over the past two weeks, according to a tracker maintained by The New York Times.