WHITE HOUSE – The governor of North Carolina must make assurances “within a week” that Republicans can hold an in-person convention in late August or the event will be relocated to another state, President Donald Trump said Tuesday.
The Republican Party plans to spend “millions and millions of dollars” in Charlotte for the event to formally renominate the president, but “we have a governor that doesn’t want to open up the state,” Trump said of Democrat Roy Cooper.
A lot of Democratic governors “for political reasons don’t want to open up their states,” Trump claimed.
“He’s been acting very, very slowly and very suspiciously,” the president added.
All 50 states have announced at least limited and phased plans to reopen their economies, which were crippled by shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The country is suffering from record unemployment, with the U.S. gross domestic product forecast to shrink an unprecedented 35% in the second quarter.
“We’re making very good progress on the economy,” Trump said Tuesday, pointing to pent-up demand after months of widespread self-isolation that he predicts will lead to what he is calling a “transition to greatness.”
The president spoke at an event to announce a cap on insulin prices for insured senior citizens, which would go into effect next January.
Insulin is used to treat diabetes, one of the preexisting conditions that makes people more susceptible to dying from COVID-19.
Nearly 100,000 people in the United States have succumbed to the novel coronavirus.
During the White House Rose Garden event Tuesday, Trump contended that 25 times more people might have died from the infection, for which there is no cure or vaccine, if not for measures his administration has taken.
“We’re very proud of our team and our task force” for mitigating the number of fatalities, the president said.
In addition to social distancing and the closing of businesses for an extended period of time, Trump has also stated that cutting off travel from China effective Feb. 2 was a key factor.
That action has won praise, but epidemiologists also note that the spike in coronavirus cases that overloaded hospitals in the New York City area — which became the pandemic’s global epicenter — primarily resulted from travelers who flew in from Europe, not China.
Trump in mid-March announced sweeping travel restrictions on 26 European countries.
Nearly 1.7 million people in the United States have tested positive for COVID-19 infections, the most reported by any country.
There is now “evidence we’re starting to put this coronavirus epidemic in the past,” Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the task force, said during the Rose Garden event.
Twenty U.S. states, however, reported an increase in new COVID-19 cases for the week ending May 24, up from 13 states in the prior week, according to an analysis by the Reuters news agency.
South Carolina had the biggest weekly increase at 42%. Alabama’s new cases rose 28% from the previous week, Missouri’s rose 27% and North Carolina’s rose 26%, according to the analysis of data from The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer-run effort to track the outbreak.
New cases in Georgia, one of the first states to reopen, rose 21% after two weeks of declines.
Washington state posted the biggest drop in cases, down over 50%, followed by Kentucky, where new cases fell nearly 30%. New York saw new cases drop 23%, according to the Reuters analysis.
The current blotchy appearance of the pandemic across the United States appears not to be overly troubling investors.
“Consumer confidence is improving, particularly the six months ahead,” Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, told reporters at the White House while Tuesday trading on Wall Street was under way.
“All the curves are flattening and moving downward — mortality and new cases. Second of all, a lot of talk about a speedy movement towards a vaccine, moving faster than these companies have ever done before,” Kudlow said. “We’ve deregulated a lot to allow them to do that.”
The benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the day up 530 points, a gain of more than 2%.