President Donald Trump and administration officials offered a rosy update on the race for a vaccine for the resurgent coronavirus as he delivered his first public remarks since his defeat by President-elect Joe Biden.
Trump spoke from the Rose Garden as the nation sets records for confirmed cases of COVID-19, and as hospitalizations near critical levels and fatalities climb to the highest levels since the spring.
Public health experts worry that Trump’s refusal to take aggressive action on the pandemic or to coordinate with the Biden team during the final two months of his presidency will only worsen the effects of the virus and hinder the nation’s ability to swiftly distribute a vaccine next year.
As states impose new restrictions in the face of rising caseloads, Trump asked all Americans to remain “vigilant.”
But he ruled out a nationwide “lockdown” and appeared to acknowledge that the decision won’t be his much longer.
Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and other administration officials spoke at Friday’s event, which focused almost entirely on Operation Warp Speed’s achievements and scarcely made mention of the record-high levels of Covid-19 cases currently being reported.
The speech marked Trump’s first in-person public comments in over a week. Trump had spoken to reporters two days after the Nov. 3 election in the White House briefing room, where he made a variety of unsubstantiated claims about election fraud before leaving without taking questions.