Trump cites positive coronavirus trends in some states but warns of ‘big surge’ still to come

By Dave Lemery | The Center Square

Taking heart from reports of a possible easing of the worst of the coronavirus crisis in some of the hardest hit states, President Donald Trump on Monday gave credit to the American people for following social distancing guidelines that might have made a difference.

“Because of what the American people are doing, we’re having fewer hospital visits,” the president said. “I think that could be the case in New York, it could be the case in a few other states. And fewer beds, fewer hospital visits mean fewer ventilators, so we’ll see whether or not our original projections were right.”

Trump’s remarks were likely in response to reports out of New York that new hospitalizations were down for the fourth consecutive day, according to data released earlier Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“We continue to send our prayers to the people of New York and New Jersey and to the whole country,” Trump said. “Your struggle is our struggle. We will beat this virus, we will beat it together.”

So far, 362,108 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection have been diagnosed in the U.S., and there have been 10,677 deaths recorded, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The U.S. has had more confirmed cases than any other nation during the pandemic that originated in China in December 2019.

Trump noted that he had a phone conversation Monday with former Vice President Joe Biden, the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for president and Trump’s likely rival in the fall election.

“We had a really wonderful, warm conversation, it was a very nice conversation,” Trump said. “We talked about pretty much this [crisis], this is what we talked about … and he gave me his point of view, and I fully understood that. We just had a very friendly conversation, lasted probably 15 minutes. … I appreciate his calling.”

The president also revealed that an accommodation had been reached between his administration and manufacturer 3M. The Minnesota-based company had been the target of criticism in recent days because of a perceived reluctance to prioritize sending medical equipment to the American market before other countries where it has operations.

“I can also announce today that we have reached an agreement, a very amicable agreement with 3M for the delivery of an additional 55.5 million high quality face masks each month, so that we’re going to be getting over the next couple of months 166.5 million masks for our frontline health care workers,” Trump said. “So the 3M saga ends very happily. We’re very proud to be dealing now with 3M and its CEO, Mike Roman, I just spoke with him and I thanked him for getting it done.”

Another group with which he has had an at times frosty relationship, the nation’s governors, also came in for praise in the president’s comments on the situation. He said that Vice President Mike Pence had spent two hours speaking to the nation’s governors earlier Monday and that there were no complaints registered.

He also singled out Cuomo, a frequent verbal sparring partner, and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, both Democrats, for praise.

“We appreciated Gov. Cuomo’s nice, really nice statements, and likewise Gov. Murphy,” the president said. “We have worked very well with both of them, and with frankly all of the governors.”

Despite his optimism, Trump acknowledged that worse days are still likely to come.

“Tremendous progress has been made in a very short period, and I think very importantly, the progress has been made before the surge comes,” he said. “Because the next week, week and a half is going to be a big surge, the professionals tell us, and I think we’re in good shape for it.”