Formerly held every day, coronavirus briefings have disappeared from Donald Trump's schedule.
Donald Trump in recent days has demonstrated that he has moved on from the coronavirus pandemic. But the coronavirus pandemic has not moved on.
According to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 26,000 new coronavirus cases were reported in the United States on Sunday, bringing the total number to more than 1.7 million. The death toll grew by nearly 700 to 104,396.
With the number of cases diagnosed every day increasing in some states as social distancing requirements are eased, and with more than 40 million Americans thrown out of work in just over two months, the coronavirus remains the source of huge challenges to public health and the economy.
Trump has responded by simply changing the subject.
After holding nearly daily briefings on the coronavirus in late March and early April, Trump abandoned them last month. He has not held a coronavirus briefing since May 15. He complained in late April that the briefings were "Not worth the time & effort."
Instead, he has used press events to complain about protests, attack China, threaten social media companies, and misrepresent his record on prescription drug costs.
The nation's top epidemiologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, was a fixture at Trump's daily briefings. Trump praised Fauci in April as "absolutely terrific" and even suggested he run for Congress.
On Monday, Fauci said that he had not spoken or met with Trump since May 18. Earlier in May, Trump had vowed to keep the coronavirus task force on which Fauci served going "indefinitely" after realizing its popularity.
In an interview with the website STAT, Fauci said that task force meetings, which had been held every day, "have not occurred as often lately" either.
On Tuesday, NPR reported that the administration's coronavirus testing czar, Adm. Brett Giroir, said he will be "demobilized" from working on the issue with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in a few weeks and will not be replaced. The lack of widespread testing remains a problem in dealing with the spread of the coronavirus and ending social distancing, according to public health experts.
Rather than solve the problem, Trump's strategy appears to be simply to urge the nation to ignore it. Last week, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said Trump had called him and demanded that North Carolina disregard safety rules intended to curb the virus's spread and allow him to hold the scheduled Republican National Convention in August with no social distancing, face masks, or other safety measures in place. If the state refused to let him do so, he said, he would consider relocating it to one that would.
Even Trump's tweets have mostly stopped discussing the pandemic. Though in recent days he has tweeted that vaccines and therapeutics are "coming along really well" and complained that the virus was a "very bad 'gift' from China," the his focus has mainly been elsewhere.
On Tuesday, he gave his "Complete and Total Endorsement!" to nine Republican allies; praised law enforcement for "Overwhelming Force" and "Domination" over citizens protesting against police violence in Washington, D.C.; and attacked Democratic leaders in New York and members of the press.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.