President Donald Trump on Thursday said "we are not closing our country" if the U.S. is hit by a second wave of coronavirus infections.
"People say that's a very distinct possibility, it's standard," Trump said when asked about a second wave during a tour of a Ford factory in Michigan.
"We are going to put out the fires. We're not going to close the country," Trump said. "We can put out the fires. Whether it is an ember or a flame, we are going to put it out. But we are not closing our country."
Trump has previously said there may be "embers" of the pandemic that persist in the U.S. past the summer, but he maintains that they will be stamped out. Health experts, including those in the Trump administration, have said that the virus will likely continue to spread through the fall and winter, and may become even more difficult to combat once flu season begins.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, told The Washington Post this week that he has "no doubt" there will be new waves of cases.
"The virus is not going to disappear," he told Post. "It's a highly transmissible virus. At any given time, it's some place or another. As long as that's the case, there's a risk of resurgence."
State leaders, not the federal government, have imposed harsh restrictions on residents and businesses to try to slow the spread of the disease. But with the U.S. economy straining under the social distancing rules, Trump has loudly called on the country to begin the reopening process.
All 50 states have now begun some level of reopening – including New York, the epicenter of the crisis in the U.S. – even as cases continue to rise in some parts of the country.
Trump did not wear a mask while touring Ford Motor Co.'s Rawsonville Components Plant in Ypsilanti, despite a state law and company policy requiring facial coverings there. The plant is currently making ventilators in response to the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States.
The outbreak, which began near the Chinese city of Wuhan, has spread around the globe, with more than 5 million cases confirmed worldwide and over 328,471 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
There are at least 1.5 million cases and at least 93,439 deaths from the disease in the United States, according to the latest tallies from Johns Hopkins.
Trump is determined to revive the economy as he tries to convince voters to give him four more years in the White House. More than 38 million U.S. workers have filed unemployment claims in the past nine weeks as businesses shuttered amid the pandemic.
But markets have experienced a booming rally this week, amid optimistic news about vaccine development and a growing sense from some public figures that the country has turned a corner in its fight against Covid-19.