Trump and Pence Say They See Signs U.S. Outbreak Stabilizing

Justin Sink and Mario Parker
Trump and Pence Say They See Signs U.S. Outbreak Stabilizing

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence said they see signs the U.S. coronavirus outbreak is beginning to level off or stabilize, citing a day-to-day reduction in deaths in New York, the Covid-19 epicenter in the country.

“We are beginning to see the glimmers of progress,” Pence said at a White House news conference on Sunday. “The experts will tell me not to jump to any conclusions, and I’m not, but like your president I’m an optimistic person and I’m hopeful.”

Pence said the government is starting to see “cases, and most importantly losses and hospitalizations, begin to stabilize.”

New York state reported 594 new coronavirus deaths on Sunday, a reduction of 36 from Saturday. Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a daily briefing that the data may show the state is reaching a “plateau” -- or could be “just a blip.”

But Trump was more optimistic. “Maybe that’s a good sign,” he said. “We hope we’re seeing a leveling off.”

The president also said his coronavirus task force had a “very good meeting” on Sunday at the White House.

This Just In

“We’re seeing things that we don’t even report because we think it’s too early to report,” Trump said, without elaborating. “I think we’re seeing things happen that are very good.”

The U.S. has the largest publicly reported coronavirus outbreak in the world, with more than 335,000 cases and more than 9,500 deaths so far, according to a running tally from Johns Hopkins University.

Trump said Saturday that the country faces “a very, very deadly period” over the next two weeks, and on Sunday the U.S. Surgeon General, Jerome Adams, compared the current moment to Pearl Harbor or the 9/11 attacks on the U.S.

Others were also more upbeat on Sunday, including billionaire Bill Gates in an interview with Fox News, and hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, who declared on Twitter that he was “beginning to get optimistic” based on the trends in New York.

Trump said the latest numbers on the outbreak had changed the White House’s projections of how many Americans may die, but he didn’t elaborate. Last week, the White House projected that between 100,000 and 240,000 people would die in the outbreak.

‘Crossed the Apex’

Deborah Birx, the State Department immunologist who’s directed the White House’s projections, said that an “independent” model she had examined over the weekend still projected about 100,000 U.S. deaths.

She said that Italy and Spain, which together have had more than 260,000 Covid-19 cases and more than 28,000 deaths, have “crossed the apex” of their outbreaks after aggressive social distancing efforts for the past four weeks.

“That’s our word to the American people, that we can look like that,” she said.

Pence said any stabilization of the growth of the U.S. outbreak is likely due to social distancing practices adopted last month that have savaged the economy.

“You’re listening to your state and local officials, you’re practicing social distancing, you’re using drive-throughs instead of going into restaurants,” he said.

(Updates with Birx comments in last paragraph.)

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