Update (1715ET): As expected, President Trump said Tuesday evening that all Americans should wear masks and follow other social distancing guidelines. He also promised that vaccines would be coming "much sooner than anybody thought possible."
“"We are asking everybody, when you are not able to socially distance, wear a mask," Trump said. “Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact."
The US has learned "a great deal" about "the China virus", and unfortunately, things will probably "get worse before they get better" Trump said.
“Some areas of our country are doing very well, others are doing less well,” the President said. “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.”
Notably, Trump himself didn't wear a mask during the briefing, a fact that reporters were quick to point out.
"We're asking everybody ... wear a mask," President Trump, who is not wearing a mask— Hunter Walker (@hunterw) July 21, 2020
The president said two vaccine candidates are already entering the final (and most extensive) phase of clinical trials, with four others not far behind. After talking about the vaccine effort and the "widely available" treatments like remdesivir, Trump added that students should be able to return to school for the upcoming semester, since fewer than 1% of cases have impacted school-age kids, Trump said.
Asked about the possibility of dedicated more federal funds to testing, Trump said he would be in favor of adding more money for testing in the next stimulus bill.
Now, will Trump's supporters listen to the president and start wearing masks indoors and whenever they can't maintain six feet between them and others when outdoors? Or will they continue to resist.
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President Trump is expected to lead tonight's press briefing of the COVID-19 White House Task Force - the first time Trump will lead one of the task force's briefings since he abandoned the daily briefing schedule back in late April.
But Trump's presence isn't the only notable personnel decision. Dr. Fauci and a handful of other task force members have confirmed to CNN that they had not been invited to the briefing, meaning that what we're about to see is very likely to be 100% Trump.
That's not super surprising. The president's advisers have urged him to take a more high-profile approach in leading the virus response against Democratic rival Joe Biden.
"I think it's a great way to get information out to the public," Trump told reporters during a scrum in the Oval Office on Monday, saying he hopes to discuss progress on vaccines and therapies like remdesivir.
Trump has been tweaking his approach lately, even going so far as to belatedly tweet a photo of himself in a face mask Monday, calling wearing one an act of patriotism, after months of resistance to being publicly seen in the coverings.
Dr.Fauci told CNN's Jake Tapper in a Tuesday interview that he is "assuming" he will not appear at President Trump's briefing, since it's due to start in less than an hour.
"I was not invited up to this point," he told Tapper moments ago. "I'm assuming I'm not going to be there."
The briefing begins at 1700ET.