The U.S. surgeon general says that Americans should brace for levels of tragedy reminiscent of the Sept. 11 attacks and the bombing of Pearl Harbor, while the nation’s infectious disease chief warned that the new coronavirus may never be completely eradicated from the globe.
Those were some of the most grim assessments yet for the immediate future and beyond. But hours later, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence tried to strike more optimistic tones, suggesting that hard weeks ahead could mean beginning to turn a corner.
“We’re starting to see light at the end of the tunnel”, Trump said at a Sunday evening White House briefing. Pence added, “We are beginning to see glimmers of progress”.
The president also insisted that both assessments from his administration — they came within 12 hours of each other — didn’t represent an about-face or were even “that different”.
“I think we all know that we have to reach a certain point — and that point is going to be a horrific point in terms of death — but it’s also a point at which things are going to start changing,” Trump said. “We’re getting very close to that level right now”.
The president added that he thought the next two weeks “are going to be very difficult. At the same time, we understand what they represent and what that time represents and, hopefully, we can get this over with”.
Still, Trump’s own briefing also struck a somber tone at times. The president offered some of his most extensive comments to date to the families of those killed by the virus, urging the nation to pray for them and “ask God to comfort them in their hour of grief”.
“With the faith of our families and the spirit of our people and the grace of our God we will endure”, the president said. “We will overcome”.
Read more: AP