(Bloomberg) — President Donald Trump has paid little heed to a resurgence in U.S. coronavirus cases — which on Thursday hit a record level — announcing no new steps to curb the outbreak and continuing with a normal schedule of meetings and travel as hospitals fill with sick patients.
Trump hasn’t asked Americans to change their daily routines, and top administration officials say there will be no repeat of the lockdowns that collapsed the U.S. economy in March. When Trump travels or stands close to other officials, he doesn’t wear a mask, a precaution urged by health officials.
State health departments reported more than 37,000 new cases on Thursday, led by Florida, Texas, California and Arizona, surpassing the 36,188 peak from April 24.
Trump, in a Twitter post late Thursday, said coronavirus deaths were “way down” and suggested that the American mortality rate was one of the lowest in the world.
But the unrelenting coronavirus onslaught could prevent the kind of economic rebound he has been promising by year’s end and further damage his standing in polls that show Joe Biden, his Democratic opponent, ahead nationally and in key swing states. A mounting death toll adds to Trump’s re-election concerns as new modeling predicts the virus will kill 180,000 Americans by October.
Officials have downplayed the resurgence, saying it remains contained to about a dozen states and that deaths haven’t begun to climb.
“We’re going to see these things,” top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters on Thursday, referring to the growing number of cases. “But the economy is not going to be closed down again.”
Many governors on the front lines of the crisis — including those in red states — are acting far more aggressively than Trump. Texas on Thursday halted its phased reopening as Republican Governor Greg Abbott warned of a new sharp wave of the virus.
“The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses,” Abbott said in a statement.
The surge is particularly acute in the Sunbelt states that were among the first to ease social distancing requirements imposed to slow the spread of the virus.
Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday in Ohio that the administration is working closely with those states, but emphasized “in some 38 states across the country, cases are stable or even declining.”
Read more: Texas Governor Halts Reopening With U.S. Nearing New Covid Peak
“While you see in the news over the past week or so we have rising cases and outbreaks in several Southern states, I want to assure you that our task force and our entire administration is working continuously with leaders in those states to respond,” Pence said, adding that he’ll soon travel to Texas and Arizona to meet with officials there.
The vice president and and other members of the coronavirus task force, which hasn’t held a briefing since April 27, will meet with reporters on Friday at the Health and Human Services Department, the White House said.
On Sunday, Pence will speak to the press along with Abbott and the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, Deborah Birx, according to an official familiar with the plans. Birx hasn’t spoken to reporters at the White House since May 29.