US President Donald Trump has reiterated his belief that the coronavirus will "just disappear" at some point, as America struggles to deal with an increasingly alarming rise in infections.
Trump spoke to Fox Business today, and offered up a cheerful assessment of the situation.
"I think we're going to be very good with the coronavirus," Trump said.
"I think that, at some point, that's going to sort of, just disappear, I hope."
"You still believe so? Disappear?" reporter Blake Berman asked.
"Well, I do. I do. Yeah sure, at some point," Trump replied.
"And I think we're going to have a vaccine very soon, too."
The exchange echoed something Trump infamously said all the way back on February 27, when there were just 60 cases in the entire country.
"It's going to disappear," Trump told reporters.
"One day, it's like a miracle, it will disappear."
This was around the same time at which he suggested the "warmer weather" in April would make the virus go away.
Burman also asked Trump about a new economic model from Goldman Sachs, which found there would be a "net positive" effect on America's GDP if the general public universally wore face masks.
The President himself has refused to wear a mask in public, to the annoyance of his critics, who say he should be setting an example for the rest of the country.
He claims to have worn one behind closed doors at a handful of events.
"If there is an economic benefit, sir, and there is a public health benefit, sir, why not go forward and say there should be mandatory masks all across this country?" Burman asked.
"Well I don't know if you need mandatory, because you have many places in the country where people stay very long distance. You talk about social distancing," said Trump.
"But I'm all for masks. I think masks are good. I would wear – if I was in a group of people, and it was close – I would, I have, I mean people have seen me wearing one.
"If I'm in a group of people where we're not 10 feet (about three metres) away – but usually I'm not in that position."
"Do you think the public will see that, at some point?" asked Burman.
"I mean, I'd have no problem. Actually, I had a mask on, I said I liked the way I looked. OK? I thought it was OK," said the President.
"It was a dark, black mask, and I thought it looked OK. Looked like the Lone Ranger."
The United States is approaching 2.8 million confirmed cases of the virus, and its death toll has passed 130,000.
Today the country recorded its highest ever number of new infections in a 24-hour period with 51,097.
Dr Anthony Fauci, America's most prominent infectious disease expert and a member of the President's coronavirus task force, has warned the US could soon face as many as 100,000 daily infections.
"Clearly we are not in control right now," Dr Fauci told a Senate hearing yesterday.
"We are now having 40-plus-thousand new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around.
"I think it is important to tell you and
He warned that many states were "skipping over" the criteria they were supposed to meet before relaxing virus restrictions and moving to reopen their economies.
"I can't make an accurate prediction, but it is going to be very disturbing, I will guarantee you that," he told Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren.
"Because when you have an outbreak in one part of the country, even though in other parts of the country they're doing well, they are vulnerable."
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was asked to elaborate on Trump's latest comments at today's media briefing.
"Earlier today, the President said, 'I think that at some point, that's going to sort of just disappear, I hope.' Is hoping that it will disappear the President's strategy at this point?" a reporter asked.
"No, the President is confident that it will disappear," McEnany said.
"He is confident that he's put together a revolutionary, first-class team that is going to break through bureaucracy and get us a vaccine. He's confident that, that will lead us to a place where we won't have Covid on our hands.
"In fact, there is very pleasing news today from Pfizer and BioNTech that showed positive results for their vaccines."
"Dr Fauci says that we're heading towards 100,000 cases per day. So why does the President have evidence that it could just disappear? Can you distinguish between a vaccine and just as a theory?" the reporter asked, referring to Dr Fauci's Senate testimony.
"One thing I would note, with regard to cases, we're aware that there are embers in the country. We're aware that there are places with rising cases," said McEnany.
"And that's why Dr (Deborah) Birx is on the ground, and others. We're continually assessing that. But one thing I would note is just that when you do test more people, you identify more cases, and that is rapidly ongoing.
"We're testing more than half a million a day. To give you an example, on April 6, really at the height of the pandemic, we were doing 151,525 tests. One day – you know, Thursday is the number I have here – we conducted 637,587 tests. So when you have a fivefold increase in tests, you have a greater identification of cases."
The numbers she mentioned there are accurate, and it is true that the percentage of tests that returned positive results was significantly higher in April – when tests were much less accessible – than it is now.
However, the rise in testing nationwide does not account for the even higher increase in infections in the worst-affected states.
This chart from The Atlantic's Covid Tracking Project illustrates the problem. In states currently experiencing a surge, such as Texas and Florida, new cases of the virus are growing at a rate far exceeding the uptick in tests.
"We looked into the possibility that the surge in new cases is merely an artefact of expanded testing. All available data suggests that it is not," the Project concluded.
The US is obviously a massive country, and the pandemic has spread more quickly in some regions than in others.
New York, which accounted for a huge proportion of both infections and deaths a few months ago, is now seeing declining numbers.
Meanwhile, states in the West and the South are seeing sharp increases.
"Do you consider what is happening in Florida and Texas as embers?" the reporter asked McEnany.
"I would say those are – we see rising cases. We see embers around the country," the Press Secretary responded.
"We always knew that would come with reopening, but those who are identifying as positive cases do tend to be younger individuals.
"And I think the increase of testing is part of the contribution to what we are seeing."