In a reversal of his previous dismissive attitude toward the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump on Tuesday encouraged the widespread use of masks (despite his refusal to wear them in the past) and condemned large gatherings (despite having held a rally on June 20).
“Some areas of our country are doing very well. Others are doing less well,” he said, in his first coronavirus briefing since April. “It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better—something I don’t like saying about things, but that’s the way it is.”
Dr. Deborah Birx was present at the briefing, but Dr. Anthony Fauci was not. Fauci has said that he was not invited. Trump declined to comment on Fauci’s absence.
Despite the president’s newfound appreciation for the seriousness of the virus, the speech was not without its Trumpisms. He repeatedly referred to the coronavirus as “the China virus,” and, when asked whether he thought Ghislaine Maxwell—Jeffrey Epstein’s associate currently incarcerated on child sex trafficking charges—would turn in powerful men, he responded, “I just wish her well, frankly.”
“I’ve met her numerous times over the years, especially since I lived in Palm Beach, and I guess they lived in Palm Beach,” he continued, “but I wish her well.”
Nothing to see here—just the President of the United States wishing an accused child sex trafficker well, TWICE! pic.twitter.com/z6Lq4q1IE7
— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) July 21, 2020