The White House coronavirus task force held its first briefing in two months on Friday.
Vice President Mike Pence has led the task force since the beginning of the pandemic, but it slowly stopped daily briefings as states began reopening efforts.
Pence gave assurances that “this moment in the coronavirus pandemic is different than what we saw two months ago.” He said that among other things, the U.S. has more supplies on hand now, with no requests from hard-hit states for equipment such as ventilators and protective gear.
Read the latest on the briefing here.
The briefing came amid alarming increases in COVID-19 cases in Texas, Arizona, Florida and Arkansas.
On Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered bars and river outfitters to close and scaled back dining capacity at restaurants. He has also placed a ban on large gatherings and temporarily halted elective surgeries to preserve hospital beds.
Deaths from the coronavirus in the U.S. are down to around 600 per day, compared with about 2,200 in mid-April. Despite the rise in cases, some experts have expressed doubt that deaths will return to that level, because of advances in treatment and prevention and also because a large share of the new infections are in younger adults, who are more likely than older ones to survive.
The virus is blamed for 124,000 deaths in the U.S. and 2.4 million confirmed infections nationwide, by Johns Hopkins’ count. But U.S. health officials said the true number of Americans infected is about 20 million, or almost 10 times higher. Worldwide, the virus has claimed close to a half-million lives, according to Johns Hopkins.
Texas reported more than 17,000 confirmed new cases in the past three days, with a record high of nearly 6,000 on Thursday. The day’s tally of over 4,700 hospitalizations was also a record.