While a number of states are beginning to lift lockdown restrictions and reopen businesses, the coronavirus isn't gone. In fact, health experts agree that the United States will likely see a resurgence of the disease in the fall.
When President Trump was asked about the potential for a second wave of the coronavirus while touring a Ford factory in Michigan, Trump replied "People say that's a very distinct possibility, it's standard."
"We are going to put out the fires," Trump added. "We're not going to close the country. We can put out the fires. Whether it's an ember or a flame, we are going to put it out. But we're not closing our country."
Trump's insistence that the U.S. might address a possible coronavirus outbreak in the fall without extended lockdowns is puzzling considering that, just this week, a study revealed that Trump could have saved 36,000 lives if he'd enacted social distancing measures just one week sooner. Right now, the U.S. is steadily approaching 100,000 coronavirus deaths, with The New York Times reporting the current total at nearly 95,000.
Trump's comments also seem to contradict Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On Thursday, Redfield told the Financial Times that he wasn't ruling out the idea of new lockdown restrictions.
"I can't guarantee — that's kind of getting into the opinion mode, we have to be data-driven," Redfield said. "What I can say is that we are committed to using the time that we have now to get this nation as overprepared as possible."
While state governors have the power to enforce lockdown measures without Trump's approval, he can still influence them. In addition, the Department of Justice has already threatened to sue states who extend social distancing measures. Similar threats could come in the fall if states close without Trump's approval.
Documents show the administration basically ignored the coronavirus for two months. When that was no longer an option, the Trump administration's messaging was inconsistent and often erratic. Administration figures have offered contradictory information about the coronavirus and officials have continued the White House's science-denying trend.
Trump has never been a fan of social distancing measures. He only very reluctantly extended nationwide social distancing in April. Before then, Trump repeatedly announced his intentions to reopen the U.S. by Easter.
With 2020 being an election year, Trump seems more focused on winning than adequately responding to the health crisis. This is reflected in a number of poor business decisions by the White House coronavirus task force as outlined by an NBC News series, including a recent multi-million dollar deal for mask washing machines that don't actually work.
If a second wave comes in the fall, Trump can't just ignore the coronavirus away. As Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease, told The Washington Post, "The virus is not going to disappear. It's a highly transmissible virus. At any given time, it's someplace or another. As long as that's the case, there's a risk of resurgence."