President Donald Trump began his Coronavirus Task Force briefing at the White House Saturday afternoon by telling reporters that the upcoming week will be another deadly one amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Just six days after Trump said he expects coronavirus cases and deaths to peak by Easter, he said the upcoming week will be tough for Americans.
"This will be probably the toughest week between this week and next week, and there will be a lot of death, unfortunately, but a lot less death than if this wasn't done but there will be death," he said.
The amount of Americans who have tested for COVID-19 has topped 300,000, which leads any other country in the world and accounts for one-fourth of the nearly 1.2 million cases around the globe. Of the 64,000 deaths in the world, more than 8,300 of them have been in the United States.
Though neither Trump nor his task force Saturday would give specific numbers on how many deaths they expect to happen, they said the number of cases should peak within the next week, and that the number of deaths lag behind them.
Trump used the Saturday press conference to also talk about attacking the coronavirus in hard-hit areas by supplying more ventilators and deploying military personnel to go "into a battle that they've never trained for."
The president blasted news media for "spreading false rumors and fear," and he recapped his phone call with major sports commissioners, saying he expects the sports world to be open "sooner rather than later."
Trump also reiterated his outlook of the drug hydroxychloroquine.
Trump had said last Sunday the peak for death rates is likely to hit in two weeks when he officially extended social distancing through the end of April. Now he is looking at the hard-hit areas from the coronavirus, and how the country can move forward in attacking COVID-19.
"We're looking for a focus in the hardest-hit regions. Some of them are obvious, and some of them are not so obvious. They spring up. They hit you like you got hit by a club," Trump said.
Trump said he will use the Defense Production Act "very powerfully," and that FEMA and HHS have ordered 180 million N-95 masks.
Task Force member Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the death rate will continue to rise, and that social distancing is paramount in slowing the spread of coronavirus.
"We are going to see deaths that are going to continue to go up. At the same time, we want to focus on number of new cases," Fauci said Saturday. "What we are doing is making a difference so we have to continue to do so."
Trump, Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx all emphasized the importance of the White House's social distancing guidelines during the next few weeks to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
"This is the moment to do everything that you can on the presidential guidelines," Birx said. "This is the moment to not be going to the grocery store, not going to the pharmacy."
Trump said thousands of military soldiers, doctors and nurses will be directed to hot spots around the country to help supplement local physicians and nurses treating the virus.
"We'll be telling them where they're going," Trump said. "They're going into war, they're going into a battle that they've never trained for. Nobody's trained for, nobody's seen this, I would say since 1917, which was the greatest of them all."
The 1917 reference was for the 1918 flu pandemic, which was the most severe pandemic in world history, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Trump has endured an ongoing battle with much of the media, and Saturday he again accused them of "spreading panic" and "fear."
"It's critical that certain media outlets stop spreading false rumors and creating fear, and even panic, with the public," Trump said. "It's incredible. I could name them, but it's the same ones. Always the same ones.
"I guess they're looking for ratings. I don't know what they're looking for."
Trump took a jab at the media, saying their ratings were "the lowest they've ever been for media."
"Get this thing over with and then go back to your fake news," Trump said.
Prior to the Saturday press conference, Trump met with top leaders from 13 different major sports leagues, including Major League Baseball, NBA, NFL, NHL, NASCAR, horse racing and others.
Trump said he was encouraged that football season could kick off in September, and that he expects sports in America to be back this year.
"I can't tell you a date," Trump said. "I think it's going to be sooner rather than later."
Trump said he wants to see sports arenas and stadiums filled with fans again, and he knows the team owners and players feel the same way.
"They want to get back, they gotta get back," Trump said. "We want get back soon, very soon."